Renovations to come to Performing Arts District at SDSU

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Photo courtesy of SDSU

This is a rendering of what the new Don Powell Theater is expected to look like.

by Katelynn Robinson, Staff Writer

San Diego State intends to renovate and enhance the Performing Arts District on campus by renovating the Main Stage and incorporating a second stage with funds from the On to a New Stage project, which was awarded to SDSU through California State Colleges.

Currently, the Main Stage theater is not American with Disabilities Act accessible, and that is one of the primary reasons the renovations are being made. 

Professional Studies and Fine Arts Dean Peggy Shannon said it is vital that the building become accessible to everyone.

“First and foremost, yes it is a performing arts venue, but it’s a laboratory, it’s a classroom as well for our performing and fine arts,” Shannon said. “It’s really critical that it be an accessible building.”

The Second Stage theater is being developed to compensate for the 150 of the original 500 seats that will be taken out of the main stage theater to make it ADA accessible.

Shannon said the renovations are important to the performing arts community because it will allow for students to work with more modern technology in all their areas of study.

“Why it’s important is because performing arts, whether it’s theater, dance, music, film, television, new media, we are all accessing new technology,” Shannon said. “We’re using performances in new ways. We are creating performances with technology in new ways. Our current facilities make that really difficult to do. These new ones we are hoping will be state of the art and make for just really dynamic performances and student experiences, user experiences.”

Theater minor sophomore Janelle Miller said she was happy to find out the theater would be renovated.

“I think it’s really nice to see some of the budget going towards updating the theater,” Miller said. “Personally, I think it’s really really important to lobby for theater.” 

Miller said it is important to acknowledge the talented groups in the performing arts, and that they aren’t acknowledged enough.

“We don’t talk about our theater department,” Miller said. “We don’t talk about the amazing things we have.” 

Construction is scheduled to start in 2021. When it commences, a Fire Wall – a wooden structure to separate the large space – will be put in place to separate the areas of renovation and the practicing area. This way students will still have access to the theater for practices and rehearsals.

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