Stanford and Cal performing arts centers Issues Beyond Palo Alto, posted by Marvin Lee, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2006 at 5:27 pm
As David Gross, Portola Valley, wrote in his letter to the Editor of the Palo Alto Daily News, Wed., Oct. 11, the current Stanford Lively Arts series "is only an anemic cousin to its University of California at Berkeley counterpart, CAL Performances, a world class, highly successful fine arts enterprise." But there may be hope! After all the University did rebuild the football stadium. Stanford Daily, Oct 9,'06 Campus Concert Hall in the Works " Surprise donation announced before Rigoletto opera simulcas"t By Niraj Sheth" It is not Lincoln Center, but the University took one step closer toward being a cultural and arts hub Friday when it presented a free, live opera at Frost Amphitheater just hours after announcing a $50 million gift to build a new campus concert hall. The big news came before the first note was sung, as officials announced that Helen and Peter Bing had donated money to build a new world-class concert hall. The University hopes to make the hall the centerpiece of a new performing arts center on campus part of plans developed by the Stanford Arts Initiative, a multidisciplinary effort that aims to bring more resources and attention to the arts on campus. We are grateful for such strong and early support for the arts initiative, said Assoc. Art Prof. Bryan Wolf, one of two co-directors of the Stanford Arts Initiative. With this gift and others that we hope will follow we intend to transform the arts at Stanford. While the timing and details of construction have yet to be determined, the University plans to build the 900-seat concert hall and the rest of the performing arts space next to the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center." .....
What happened between 1999, when Gary Fazzino announced the possibility of a PA-Stanford performing arts center? Essentially, nothing!
Our development people were asleep at the wheel; we didn't have city staff going for it (they had no direction, or leadership from Council on this). So what we end up with is a lost opportunity - again! What's new?
Sure, it's going to be great that Stanford has this center, but no one can tell me that if this city had mustered the political will and tapped private donors that that center wouldn't have been closer to the center of Palo Alto, and feeding all kindd of business here.
The commercial and educational fallout from a local site would have been nothing short of stupendous.
Instead, we have Stanford-Palo Alto initiatives that help Stanford sell football tickets.
When are we going to learn how to manage and GROW our city in a way other than by accident?
Don't get me wrong; I'm happy to have Stanford build the center on its campus - that's better than nothing, but what we lost by inaction, and lack of political will makes me cringe. What's worse, there is no way to bring this opportunity back. Between Stanford and Mt.View's Center for the Performing Arts, the local entertainment venue scene is all tied up.
Palo Alto is beginning to look like a once famous actress who has let herself go, unaware that neighbors are snikering as she prances down the street, thinking about the old days.
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2006 at 10:47 pm
I'm very pleased to hear about the proposed Campus Concert Hall at Stanford, and I certainly hope it will attract more world-class performances. Until it's built, I hope Jennifer Bilfield, the new artistic and executive director will get more great artist on the bill. Cal Performances usually has many more top artists than Stanford, but it's a hassle to get over to Berkeley.
Posted by J.L., a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2006 at 3:02 pm
What's especially frustrating about this is that Theatreworks, the premier theatre company on the Peninsula, and probably the most prolific in the entire South Bay, in terms of large-scale productions, had been looking to solve some of its venue-related problems in the years intervening betweem Fazzino's suggestion, and Stanford's decision not to do a co-op effort with PA. How did we miss brokering that opportunity? It was a well known situation.
This is another example of how poor our large scale development strategies are. We simply don't have the manpower, policy-making vision, or political will to get these things done.
It's especially frustrating because many of these opportunities are just "there", ripe for the picking, but get pushed to the side for small-time devlopment efforts and sound bites. That, and the incessant meddling by small groups that don't want change, create FUD, are obsessively "against" things, or are fulfilling some latent need to demostrate personal power and realizing it in the municipal realm, because it's easy to access that realm.
If you were Stanford, knowing what yuo've gone through in the past, would you want to deal with this kind of municipal neurosis?
Posted by Marvin Lee, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2006 at 8:51 pm
Perhaps Stanford as have other universities can learn that intellectually sophisticated community audiences have an important role to play in the development of both their arts and their sciences. It took many, many years for Cambridge and Oxford and Harvard and Yale to learn that lesson. There is still hope for the farm although to hear students and some faculty tell it the isolation can get to them. /Marvin
Posted by Leon Kaplan, a resident of another community, on Oct 16, 2006 at 11:18 am
Very interesting thread. J.L. mostly has it right. Even so, Stanford shares the responsibility for failing to take advantage of this rare opportunity. Many of us who worked on this potential collaboration were frustrated and disappointed by the response from the leadership of the City and Stanford.