Funding from the state gave Allan Hancock College a big boost toward building its long-awaited fine arts complex on the Santa Maria campus, but getting the remainder of the money may take some creativity.
Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers said the college has $24 million from the state, thanks to the project’s inclusion in the California budget.
Hancock has another $10 million from the 2013 bequest from the estate of Patty Boyd, a former faculty member who taught piano and was a longtime fine arts supporter.
That leaves the community college with a $13.6-million gap for the approximately $48-million project, Walthers told the Board of Trustees this week during a special study sessions at the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School library.
The Hancock fine arts complex was one of 15 projects selected for money in the state budget, and the college must match the funding.
“The state’s going to give us $24 million to fund this project, it doesn’t seem like we would want to leave that sitting on the table,” Walthers said.
The proposed fine arts complex calls for a 68,000-square-foot, two-story building that includes a recital hall, and space to house the college’s art, dance, drama, film, graphics, music, photography, multimedia arts and communication programs.
Currently, the college’s fine arts department is housed in five buildings in Santa Maria, with many built 50 years ago.
“We bandage those together,” Walthers said. “Our facilities crew has done such a great job in keeping those together. They’re not modern classrooms.”
Many of the fine arts classes, such as ceramics and dance, fall under the Community Education Program, Walthers said.
The lack of a recital hall means the choir and band programs must rent churches to find temporary homes.
Ann Lucas, a longtime music instructor at the college and director of the Allan Hancock College Singers, noted the need for a better facility earlier this month in a statement from the college.
“Our performing arts ensembles have long struggled to find appropriate spaces in which to perform that would be both large enough and affordable,” Lucas said.
“Our music department is poised to make great leaps forward in sound engineering and technology. Having not only the equipment, but also the studio and lab space in which to offer these programs, is essential to our success.”
If the additional funding can’t be found, one option would be to cancel the fine arts complex, and use the Patty Boyd donation to build a recital hall, Walthers said.
“I don’t think that would go over well on the campus,” Walthers said. “Our fine arts people have been very patient in waiting for their project to come through.”
The Board of Trustees will consider options for getting the added funding at a future meeting, Walthers said.
A new fine arts complex could be completed in 2020 or 2021 — coinciding with the college’s centennial celebration, officials said.
“I really believe that if you build it, they will come,” said Lucas. “In addition to the benefits to the college itself, a new recital hall provides a huge benefit to the Santa Maria Valley.”
Other music groups, such as the Santa Maria Philharmonic Society, would also gain a home for performances, Lucas said.
“The new fine arts complex will be a jewel in the crown for the college — and Allan Hancock College is already a jewel in the crown of the California community college system.”
— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.