The California State University (CSU) audit of $1.5 billion was found and released as of last June and discussion of a new concert hall on campus is sparking as an idea to use some of the funds.
In June, the Los Angeles Times came out with the piece, “That mysterious $1.5 billion found in audit? Cal State says it’s ‘nothing nefarious,’” that revealed that the $1.5 billion audit primarily came from excess tuition revenue.
The $1.5 billion is a combined amount available to all CSUs to spend on operating costs and to support instruction. According to the L.A. Times article, the CSU claims that the money was never hid from legislators and students, and that the money is not a surplus.
Timothy P. White, CSU chancellor, stated in the L. A. Times that the money should only be used for “operating reserve,” which consists of three components: cash reserves (debt service), capital facilities and against an economic turndown.
After having read the article, Jordan Rivera, a fifth-year music composition student, has joined forces with the chair of the music department, Peter Yates, in creating a proposal to fund a new concert hall as a part of the Lanterman Project.
The state closed the Lanterman Developmental Center in 2014 and transferred the land to Cal Poly Pomona the following year.
FivePoint, a land development company, and the university’s Lanterman Project plan to create an innovative community on the 250-acre property which would include entertainment, recreational activities, academic support, etc.
With the timeliness of the Lanterman Project, the music department community hopes to propose the idea of a new performing arts center on the site soon.
“In revising our department’s Strategic Plan, (the) music (department) has often mentioned a performing arts center as an important long term goal,” Yates said. “With the emergence of the Lanterman Development Project, now has become the sensible time to go forward.”
CPP is one of the few CSUs that does not have a concert hall. CPP currently only has a recital hall.
“The recital hall was one of the last newest things added to the music department and that was back in the mid-‘70s,” Rivera said. “We have outgrown it …. It is trying to get renovated and our head of the department is trying to push to get it renovated too but it’s still small. It’s really meant for intimate, small performances versus a concert hall (for) grand large performances.”
Recent institutions where these centers have been built include CSU Northridge, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Santa Monica College.
Music ensemble performances inside the recital hall turn into “logistical nightmares,” Rivera said. Large ensembles have a risk of falling off the stage and with seating of less than 200, over capacity causes families and audience members to be turned away from watching performances as well as lost revenue.
Music performances are sometimes held in the University Theatre, which is bigger than the recital hall, but performers find it challenging having to set up and perform in that space because it’s meant for theatrical performances, not amplified acoustical performaces.
With partial money from $1.5 billion or donations, the plan for a potential concert hall on the Lanterman site would include on-site shops for set building and storage for instruments, instructional and rehearsal studio spaces, parking, a shuttle service, etc.
CPP is located at the intersection of several freeways and in an area filled with communities that need a performing arts center featuring campus, regional, national and international artists and events, Yates said.
Rivera is planning and hopes to see or hear plans for the university to consider the idea of having a concert hall.
He has reached out to around 50 students who are music, history, engineering and math majors, all whom agree it would be beneficial to have a concert hall in addition to the recital hall.
“Our existing Recital Hall is highly active, to the point of impaction,” Yates said. “Professional artists and our own ensembles present over 70 events a year in genres from chamber music to electronic music to mariachi. We look forward to the opportunity to share these gems with a wider audience in a state-of-the-art facility.”
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