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Pleasanton Concert Band plays tonight at new Firehouse Arts Center

Sister-city delegation from Tulancingo to be honored at free public event

The first major city-sponsored event will take place at the new Firehouse Arts Center tonight at 7 p.m. 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 tomorrow night with a performance by master jazz guitarist Earl Klugh. On Saturday, celebrated composer musician Mose Allison will perform, with award-winning pianist Evelyne Brancart in a Chopin piano concert on Sunday.

The events follow the dedication last weekend of the $10 million Firehouse Arts Center. Speakers at an opening day ceremony included artist Charlotte Severin of the Firehouse Arts Center task force that spearheaded the effort to build the new arts center, and Bill Butler, now chairman of the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has contributed close to $2 million in cash donations and pledges for the center.

Other speakers included Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and City Manager Nelson Fialho.

Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) presented a congressional resolution that congratulates Pleasanton on its new arts center and theater, with a similar resolution from the California State Senate presented by State Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-10th). An aide to Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-18th) presented a resolution approved by the State Assembly that also congratulated Pleasanton on its new facility.

All members of the City Council sat in a row of chairs in front of the architecturally-stunning front entrance to the Firehouse Arts Center, facing an estimate 300 guests who joined in the celebration and dedication. Along with Hosterman, the council members were Cheryl Cook-Kallio, Cindy McGovern, Matt Sullivan and vice mayor Jerry Thorne.

The Firehouse Arts 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, will be open daily.

The complex is an architectural blend of modern design with the old historic fire station built in 1929 that was saved from destruction by artists and members of the Pleasanton arts community. They saw the site as ideal for meeting their needs. With the City Council's decision to make the Firehouse Arts Center construction a capital improvement priority, the Cultural Arts Council set up a foundation for soliciting public and private contributions in addition to the $10 million the council eventually authorized for the complex.

The premier 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, who were introduced to loud applause at Saturday's dedication ceremony, 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.

Tickets for all performances are available for purchase online at www.firehousearts.org. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Firehouse Arts Center box office, or by phone at (925) 931-4848. Although closes on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 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.

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