The city's stunning, new $10 million Firehouse Arts Center opens at 10 a.m. today with a full day of artist demonstrations, live music, theater performances, art activities for children and refreshments--all free to the public.
A dedication ceremony will start at 11 a.m., with festivities inside and on the patios of the center, which is located at 4444 Railroad Ave. at the end of Division Street, just a one-block walk from Main Street and downtown Pleasanton.
Most striking about the complex is the blend of modern architecture with the old historic fire station built in 1929 that was saved from destruction by artists and members of the Cultural Arts Council. They saw the site as ideal for meeting their needs. The CAC set up a foundation for soliciting contributions and has raised more than $2 million in cash and pledges to help pay the costs of the new performing arts center, which is otherwise funded by the city government and taxpayers.
The premier cultural center features a 227-seat flexible studio theater, 2,000 square feet of versatile gallery space, two large art classrooms, and a spacious grand lobby for receptions and events.
As a multiple-use facility, the Firehouse Arts Center will provide a broad range of arts programming opportunities. From musical and theater performances to lectures, films, comedy, youth performances, workshops and demonstrations, the facility is expected to serve as a vibrant center for the arts for all segments of Pleasanton.
Construction on the project began in the summer of 2008. At the time, budget estimates ran as high as $12 million to build and furnish the structure. Because of the recession that had hit the construction industry especially hard, when bids were advertised the cost had dropped to $8 million. Another $2 million was added for special features, including environmentally conscious features such as solar panels.
The master plan was designed by ELS Architecture and Urban Design of Berkeley, and the general contractor was W.A. Thomas Co. Inc. of Martinez.
Pleasanton residents Nancy and Gary Harrington donated several of the most dramatic features of the Firehouse Arts Center -- two large glass marquees designed by world-renowned architectural glass artist Martin Donlin, as well as a statue of Claude Monet that will be installed near the outdoor plaza.
The first major city-sponsored event will take place at 7 p.m. next Thursday with a special free performance by the Pleasanton Community Concert Band for the Sister City delegation from Tulancingo, Mexico.
Then a full season of entertainment kicks off next Friday night with performances by master jazz guitarist Earl Klugh. On Saturday, Sept. 25, celebrated composer musician Mose Allison will perform, with award-winning pianist Evelyne Brancart in a Chopin piano concert on that Sunday, Sept. 26.
Tickets for all performances are available for purchase online beginning at www.firehousearts.org. Starting this week, tickets could also be purchased in person at the Firehouse Arts Center box office, or by phone at (925) 931-4848. Box office hours are from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Tickets, if available, can also be purchased two hours prior to each performance.