The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN names director for Valley Performing Arts Center

By the time he was a teen, Ralph Hoskins knew he had a passion for the arts, and he has now been appointed executive director for CSUN’s soon-to-be-built regional performing arts center.

As Hoskins watched “Citizen Kane,” listened to Elvis Costello, and appreciated the works of Orson Welles, he knew early on that he wanted to work with the arts.

“Many people who follow this career path, and I’m not an exception, came to it as a practicing artist,” Hoskins said. “They are musicians, actors or, as in my case, a writer.”

While working for a theater’s public relations department, he fell in love with show business and gained experience with an array of venues. But it is his current opportunity with CSUN’s up-and-coming performing arts center project that excites him most.

“The new performing arts center will be the largest venue of its kind in the San Fernando Valley,” said Hoskins, who also oversees public relations for the center. “In seating size, the performing arts center allows the university to host a whole different caliber of performance than what we’ve been able to do in the past.”

The new performing arts center will have 1,700 seats and a 200-seat black box where theater students can perform in a more intimate environment. CSUN’s radio station, KCSN 88.5, will be located in the structure’s center, and classrooms will also be incorporated into the building. The size of the center will allow touring bands, Broadway productions and musicals, as well as dance performances, to take place on campus.

The site, located at the northwest corner of Nordhoff Street and Lindley Avenue, is slated for groundbreaking construction later this year.

But with such a large-scale project, the director will face many challenges. Hoskins’ position will entail the juggling of in-house and outside rentals of the facility. He will also manage the availability of the center for various campus departments and community groups – including local schools and symphonies.

Hoskins holds a bicameral responsibility. The two components – facility management and programming – will be integrated in order to create a successful performing arts center. The challenges are to take care of the building along with promoting access to the community.

The programming aspect encompasses the discovery of tastes and goals within the community in order to appeal to a large group of individuals. Of course, marketing, fundraising, and production will also be vital to the success of the center.

Hoskins stressed the importance of empathizing with different communities.

“You need to think outside yourself. The harder I work, the more empathetic I become,” he said. “After meeting with leaders (and) potential audiences in various communities, I can learn what their tastes are.”

Another challenge, according to theater manager William Taylor, would be the act of filling all 1,700 seats on any given performance date.

Although the responsibility to manage the performing arts center involves many aspects, Hoskins was selected from among other candidates because of his qualifications. Hoskins had been director of arts at California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo since 1995. Prior to that, he spent three years each with theaters in Logan, Utah and Sonoma, Calif.

Cal Poly Interim Director Peter Wilt, who worked with Hoskins for more than 10 years, said the theater in Utah was turned into a successful art center with a great deal of work from Hoskins.

“He has a strong background at the Cal Poly campus,” said CSUN public relations director John Chandler. “He experienced both leading new facilities and in-growing existing facilities.”

Many staff members are excited to welcome Hoskins on board, but some cannot ignore the fact that CSUN’s Performing Arts Center is on a much higher scale than the other centers Hoskins has worked with.

“It’s a bigger fish to fry here,” Taylor said.

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