When Governor Jerry Brown signed the 2017-18 Budget Act, he helped a long-awaited capital improvement project at Allan Hancock College move forward. The college’s Fine Arts Complex project was one of 15 capital outlay projects for community colleges included in the state budget. Hancock will receive about half of the cost for the $48 million facility from the state through Proposition 51, which California voters passed last year.
“The college and community have been planning for this project for many years. It is exciting to see the vision fulfilled,” said Hancock Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D. “This is a testament to the time college staff dedicated to developing the project and working with the state chancellor’s office and lawmakers to ensure the project was included in the budget.”
The proposed Fine Arts Complex features 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 and multimedia arts and communication programs. Currently, the college’s fine arts department, which has outgrown its space, is housed in five buildings on the Santa Maria campus. Many of the buildings were built in the early 1960s when the nucleus of the Allan Hancock College campus was constructed.
“The new facility will be the largest building at the college and truly bring state-of-the-art technology to the fine and technical arts programs,” said Felix Hernandez, the college’s vice president of operations. “Students and the community will appreciate the well-designed and sustainable building.”
Knowing the decades-long wait for the project is nearing an end is also music to the ears of Ann Lucas, DMA, a long-time music instructor at the college. Lucas, who serves as director of the Allan Hancock College Singers, says there is a pressing need for the complex and recital hall.
“Our performing arts ensembles have long struggled to find appropriate spaces in which to perform that would be both large enough and affordable,” said Lucas. “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. We will have a keyboard lab to accommodate full-size keyboards. But most of all, the new complex will provide a modern and attractive learning environment that our students and community deserve.”
The state-of-the-art recital hall will be funded through a $10 million gift left by Patty Boyd to the college in support of its music program. Boyd, a lifelong patron of the arts and native Santa Marian, taught piano as a faculty member for many years at Allan Hancock College. She passed away in July 2012.
“Patty Boyd was dedicated to passing on her love for music and the arts. Now, the college can use her generous gift to ensure her legacy will allow others in the community to do the same,” said Walthers.
At the time of the donation, the Patricia J. Boyd Fund was the second largest gift in the history of California community colleges. It remains the largest gift ever to the Allan Hancock College Foundation.
“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. The Philharmonic would have a performance home. The college could host guest artists, guest ensembles, guest speakers and conference with adequate performing space. 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.”
The Fine Arts Complex will be built near the middle of the Santa Maria campus, in unoccupied space between the Performing Arts Center and buildings C, K and S.
The college hopes to break ground in spring 2019 with an estimated completion in summer 2021.