Plans have been set in motion to construct something new at CSUN.
Perhaps more buildings so we can have more classes, instead of keeping students bottlenecked in two or three classes? No, surely we don’t need to make it feasible for students to graduate in four years.
Perhaps we’re “constructing” connections with the faculty so we can avoid a potentially crippling strike? No, surely we don’t need teachers at CSUN.
So, what will soon be a major construction project at CSUN? Why, a performing arts center, of course! Isn’t a performing arts center what students and San Fernando Valley residents really need?
According to the website for the Imagine the Arts Center, this performing arts center is fulfilling a need that the San Fernando Valley has had for a long time now.
“For more than 30 years, community leaders have explored the possibility of building a large-scale regional performing arts center in the San Fernando Valley,” the website says. “While its population of almost two million would place it among the six largest cities in the nation, the Valley is significantly underserved in the variety and quality of cultural opportunities it offers. To experience the excitement of a Broadway-caliber production, to hear the richness of a full symphony orchestra, or to see top-caliber performers and entertainers, Valley residents now must travel to Hollywood, the Westside, Pasadena, Thousand Oaks or downtown Los Angeles. This puts the arts out of reach for many, including countless children.”
The Imagine the Arts Center will certainly be jam packed with features. It will feature a main hall which will seat 1,700, an additional 200 seat theatre “for experimental and smaller-scale student productions,” academic spaces like a lecture hall and labs, and a new full studio and administrative space for KCSN, every CSUN students favorite radio station.
Incredible! What the students and residents of the San Fernando Valley definitely want and need their money spent on is a decent venue for a Broadway show or a full symphony orchestra. And, really, isn’t Pasadena, a whole 35 minutes away (in good traffic), just too far for students at a commuter campus to go, not to mention Valley residents?
Clearly, we must have a performing arts center. But how could we possibly pay for it? According to the website, the Imagine the Arts Center will cost about $100 million, a hefty sum considering the CSU Board of Trustees is considering raising tuition by 10 percent.
About half, a reported $56 million, will come from a bond measure voters passed during last November’s election. The rest, the center’s website says, will come from private donations.
Already donations are pouring in. Mike Curb donated $10 million, $5 million of which will go to the project, and he now has the College of Arts, Media, and Communication named after him. A $2 million donation from the late Clyde Porter means the Founder’s Room will now be named the Porter Pavilion. The “water feature” will be named after the Muriel Pollia Foundation for their donation of $500,000. The orchestra pit is even being named after the late Henry Mancini, a Valley composer and conductor, after his wife made “a commitment.”
Perhaps we should sell the names to individual seats, too. With a total of 1,900 theatre seats, donating $100 could allow people to immortalize their name in the form of “The Joe Smith Aisle Seat,” and net the project $190,000!
Then again, perhaps spending $100 million on a performing arts center isn’t what the university should be spending our money on after all. Perhaps some at CSUN haven’t really been thinking about what’s most beneficial for the students, but what’s most beneficial for their CSUN. Sure, the Theatre department definitely needs better classrooms, and I’m sure KCSN really could use a new studio. But spending $100 million on a performing arts center isn’t really the best way to go about that. It seems more like an afterthought to help the students.
And that’s really the problem with the whole project. The students seem like an afterthought. When administrators bemoan the disrepair of buildings in their college, students seem like an afterthought. When we’re spending only about $10 million out of the $64 million we’re getting from the bond measure on improving their facilities, students seem like an afterthought.
Perhaps it’s time some people at CSUN remembered who the university is supposed to be here for. Not Broadway shows or top-caliber entertainers, but the students.