After decades of conceptual work, Allan Hancock College broke ground on a new Fine Arts Complex Sept. 30 that will bring the institution’s various arts programs together under one roof.
Over the years, the college’s arts department consistently voiced the need for a unified arts building, but funding always posed a challenge to making the concept into a reality.
“Each time we went through the process, we’d get to that funding stage, and for different reasons, funding just would not work out,” former Fine Arts Department Chair Steven Lewis said after the groundbreaking.
PHOTO BY MALEA MARTIN
BREAKING GROUND: Current and former Allan Hancock College Fine Arts Department chairs John Hood (left) and Steven Lewis (right) break ground on the school’s new Fine Arts Complex on Sept. 30.
According to Hancock President Kevin Walthers, the final product will be both the largest physical project the college has undertaken thus far at 80,000 square feet, as well as the most expensive. But thanks to funding from the state, the Boyd Foundation, and Measure I taxpayer dollars, the long-awaited project finally broke ground and is expected to be completed in about two years.
“Fourteen years ago, in the election of 2006, members of this community voted to voluntarily tax themselves to support Measure I,” Allan Hancock board President Larry Lahr said during a pre-ground breaking speech. “This demonstrates not only the generosity of our community, but also the support of the community for our mission here at Allan Hancock College.”
Walthers added that the college was able to refinance old debt in the process, in turn saving more than $15 million for taxpayers.
Another key source of project funding comes from the Boyd Foundation, named for the late former Allan Hancock piano teacher Patty Boyd
“We’re a very large department. Over half the students at Hancock College come through the fine arts department,” current Fine Arts Department Chair John Hood said. “We are spread across this campus in six different buildings, so to have us under one beautiful building is going to be just a dream come true.”
Tracy Beard, a member of Hancock’s Measure I Citizens’ Oversight Committee, said during a pre-ground breaking speech that the project is a great use of taxpayer money because it will benefit not only the college, but the surrounding community as well.
“Over 90 percent of Hancock students are local, and our facility will host arts and culture events open to the public for decades to come,” Beard said. “Training in the arts is an economic driver. In Santa Barbara County, we have 95 organizations that supply nearly 6,000 art-related jobs, and generate almost $200 million a year, which generates $19 million in local and state government revenue for one fiscal year.”
President Walthers said that the historic project couldn’t have happened without the community’s support.
“When you look at the history of our arts program you see so many great professors and people who translated art not just onto the college but the community,” Walters said. “The community’s a great support of the college all around. That’s the best part, is that we know we can go to the community and get help when we need it.” Δ