Students, faculty, staff and members of the public gathered at Allan Hancock College’s Santa Maria campus on Feb. 24 to celebrate the grand opening of the college’s new Fine Arts Complex.

“Many stakeholders in our college and our community worked incredibly hard to make this building a reality,” said Hancock Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D. “That work is paying off today with a fantastic facility that will support Hancock’s mission of supporting fine arts on our campus and in our community.”

A group of people poses with a ribbon and scissors.
Nancy Herrera (center) joins a group of her fellow fine arts students to cut the ribbon on Hancock College’s new 88,000-square-foot Fine Arts Complex on Feb. 24. Credit: Courtesy of Allan Hancock College

Administrators, students, faculty, staff and members of the public attended the festive event, which began with speeches and a ribbon cutting to mark the completion and opening of the two-story, 88,000-square-foot facility.

The facility consolidates all of Hancock’s fine arts and performing arts programs under one roof. The programs were formerly housed in the college’s E, F, and O-300 buildings.

“On any given day you will find students gathering in this building to study and bond over their shared college experience,” said Hancock Board of Trustees President Greg Pensa.

“I am excited for the faculty who have literally been working toward this day for almost three decades. To see their dreams brought to life will always be a highlight of my time as a trustee.”

The facility includes classroom and office space for the college’s visual arts, multimedia and applied design, photography, film and video, dance and music programs. The complex also includes a 400-seat music venue, dance and music rehearsal spaces, art and pottery studios, student lounge areas and a film screening room.

The college broke ground on the complex in September 2020, and the building opened to students and faculty for the college’s spring semester in January 2023.

“This was definitely worth the wait and far beyond what we could have anticipated,” said Hancock Fine Arts Department Chair John Hood. “The facility is truly stunning, and a dream come true.”

After the ribbon-cutting, attendees were able to take self-guided tours of the complex and view live demonstrations and performances by fine arts students and faculty. Fine Arts student Nancy Herrera said she was excited to go to her classes in the new complex this year.

Herrera began taking remote classes at Hancock during the pandemic, and now has access to professional-level equipment she says will prepare her for career options.

“As a fine arts student, the new classrooms and learning labs in this building are providing me with hands-on experiences while using state-of-the-art equipment,” said Herrera. “When I walk through the door of this building, I feel like this place was really built for students like me.”

Sustainability was at the forefront of the design of the Fine Arts Complex. The project has been submitted for and expects to achieve LEED Gold status. Eighty percent of the waste on the project was diverted from landfills, and more than 10 percent of all building materials contain recycled content.

Drought-tolerant native plantings reduce water use and provide habitat for local bird and insect species.

The building also features water-efficient plumbing fixtures, LED lighting throughout, and occupancy-controlled outlets and lighting that reduce energy usage.

Finally, the Fine Arts Complex uses several distinct types of solar power, including solar panels at the Terrace, which provide a portion of the building’s energy, passive solar metal panels at the exterior that help save on heating costs, and rooftop solar panels that provide hot water for the building that is stored in large, insulated tanks on the second floor.

Funding for the approximately $48.4 million facility was provided by the voter-approved Bond Measure I, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, and a generous donation by the Patty Boyd Foundation. Approximately 166,000 labor hours built the Fine Arts Complex, and close to 70 percent of those labor hours were from local contractors, putting money back into the community.

To learn more about Hancock’s Fine Arts Complex visit To learn more about the college’s fine arts program, visit