Curtain set to raise on regional arts center

By: Laura Newell, Telegraph staff writer
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Folsom is now home to a three-venue, state-of-the-art regional performing arts center. The $50-million project was unveiled this week and is gearing up for ticket sales. “This is a teaching facility and will be a work force coordinator center,” said District Chancellor Brice Harris. “There was a need for this kind of facility in the region … we believe this was a wonderful decision.” The center’s Executive Director Dave Pier is looking forward to the upcoming lineup of performances scheduled on their new stage. “ Construction at this point is basically done,” Pier said. “Our website launched and ticket sales are available online beginning Nov. 19.” The grand opening of Three Stages at Folsom Lake College is Feb. 11, 2011. The approximate spring budget for the center is $400,000, Pier said. “The annual budget will grow with time or flex around the total budget,” Pier said. The visual and performing arts center was initially envisioned as a teaching facility for students both on stage and behind the curtain. However, the possibilities of the Three Stages center expanded with a 2003 feasibility study validating the need for a facility that could also serve as a regional arts center for the greater community, according to Pier. Folsom Lake College President Thelma Scott-Skillman said this will be an economic boom for the region. “The feasibility study helped us understand that there was a real need for a regional facility to serve our communities,” Scott-Skillman said. “The study told us that a more comprehensive facility could be an economic engine for our region.” In 2004 the project proposal, approved by the Los Rios Board of Trustees, was submitted to the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office for final funding approval in the 2005-06 budget year. Construction of the $50-million project began in July 2008 and is being supported by a State Educational Facilities General Obligation Bond, Local Measure A Bond, other District resources and donations to the Folsom Lake College Foundation. Highlights of the center The 80,000-square-foot center, designed by LPAS Architecture and Design, features spacious main lobby, a 2,500-square-foot art gallery, a director’s studio and drama lab and a full scene shop, touring office and backstage support. “We took a lot of time to create this,” said Monica Pactol, dean of instruction at the college. “I believe we will grow as an institution greatly.” The new center also includes a studio theater, a 100-seat recital hall with flexible stage and audience configurations, a recording studio with professional recording equipment, a control booth, ensemble and practice rooms and an instructional space separate from the performance space. “The walls (of the recording studio) were designed to bring in sound depending on what is needed,” said Ken Bauer, with LPAS Architecture and Design. Bauer said the recital hall is a faculty favorite because it is quaint and personal for business meetings and small performances. The center’s most prominent theater facility features an 850 seat main theater with a full orchestra pit with hydraulic lift and a full fly tower ranging 94 feet high. “The acoustic aspects on the ceiling are not just for looks, they reflect different levels of sound for different performances,” Bauer said. Pactol said there is not a bad seat in the house because of the way the main theater is scaled. Regional arts organizations are also looking forward to utilizing the main theater. Pier said that along with the economic benefits the new center will bring for the sounding communities, it will also benefit local arts organizations. Some Three Stages community partners include the Folsom Lake Community Concert Association, Folsom Lake Symphony Orchestra, the Sacramento Ballet, Sierra Community Chorus and the BYU International Folk Dancers. “We are very excited about future opportunities here,” said Bruce Woodbury, president and founder of Folsom Lake Symphony Orchestra. “We’ve been looking forward to it for seven years and we are extremely excited to perform with the highest level of acoustic properties to compliment the music we perform.” Michael Neumann, Folsom Lake Symphony music director and conductor, is looking forward to performing in a high quality facility. “In an orchestra, we love to perform on a facility that will compliment the acoustics so that the members of the orchestra will love it and the audience will love it,” Neumann said. “We are excited to perform with the grand opening performances.” Pier said the program will consist of three parts including academic for music, theater and visual arts, the regional art center to provide a home for regional organizations and the presentation of touring artists for local, national and world tours. Some regional and national touring performances include A Chorus Line: The National Tour, Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, California Theatre Center, Joffery Ballet, Aluminum, Aquila Theatre, Roseanne Cash and Folsom Lake College Music Department. To view all of the upcoming performances and purchase tickets, visit