Grossmont College opens new facility for the arts – Mission Times Courier
By CYNTHIA G. ROBERTSON
Grossmont College’s brand new Performing and Visual Arts Center (PVAC) kept the hustle and bustle of concerts, dances, plays and other events happening. That moment has finally arrived, 18 months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $ 44 million PVAC building was inaugurated in 2017 and opened on May 20, 2021. The 39,000 square foot facility will serve as a teaching and performance venue for theater, dance programs and music, and will also be the new home of the Hyde Art Gallery. The 53-foot-tall structure is the tallest educational facility on campus with a 390-seat multi-purpose theater featuring one of the county’s largest stages, an orchestra pit, and a balcony. With dressing rooms, a green room, a costume area and a make-up room, it will serve as a learning laboratory for student performers, technicians and designers of the Theater Arts program.
The centrally located Stagehouse Theater at Grossmont College kicked off its 2021-22 season on September 30 with a staging of ‘Into the Woods’ – the theater’s first performances to a live audience since the start of the pandemic .
âThe faculty and staff of the Theater Arts Department at Grossmont College are delighted to welcome back students and community members as we embark on our first production at the Stagehouse Theater since March 2020,â said the co-chair of the theater arts department, Katie Banville.
The safety of students, faculty, classified professionals, and the public is paramount, which is why a number of COVID-19 protocols have been instituted.
âAbove all, we are thrilled to give our students and clients the opportunity to reconnect in a shared space as we return to the magical experience of performing live and in person,â said Banville.
âInto the Woodsâ is an epic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm about a baker and his wife who wish to have a child; Cinderella who hopes to attend the King’s Day; and Jack, who wants his cow to give milk. When the baker and his wife learn that they cannot have children due to a witch’s curse, the two set off on a journey to break the curse. Everyone’s wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions come back to haunt them with disastrous results. The story is about people’s wishes, the importance of family, and the choices we make.
âInto the Woodsâ ends its two-week run with performances on October 6, 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. at a cost ranging from $ 10 to $ 16.
Just a week after the last performance of “Into the Woods”, the inspiring tale of “Sugar and Seeds”, based on an ancient Buddhist legend of the mustard seed, will have two productions on October 16. History is a celebration of the fragile and sacred moments we all share with those we love.
The college dance department will also be putting on a show this fall semester. âWe plan to present our student choreographed production, titled ‘Breaking Boundaries’ live and in person,â said David Mullen, faculty member in the dance department. The dates planned for this production are from November 18 to 20 at 7:30 p.m.
On October 7, the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra (GSO) gave its first concert at the PVAC, its long-awaited new home. The 70-member orchestra and 40-member choral ensemble of students, teachers and musicians from the community have performed off-campus since the 1980s, first at the former East County Performing Arts Center in El Cajon until 2009, then to the First Presbyterian Church in El Cajon, the Santa Sophia Catholic Church in Spring Valley, and the Saint John of the Cross Catholic Church in Lemon Grove.
GSO’s inaugural performance in its new location included separate performances of the symphony’s brass and percussion, woodwind and string ensembles; the Choirmaster; and a multimedia performance by the chamber orchestra. In pre-pandemic times, the ensembles performed as one large orchestra, but due to Grossmont College’s COVID-19 protocols limiting the number of people in a room, the performance was halted with each ensemble giving its own mini -concert.
âThis 390-seat venue has been part of the original Grossmont College project since the early years,â said Music Director Randall Tweed, who has led GSO for 35 years. âIt has been a long and arduous journey. This new facility is a huge step forward and being able to come back for rehearsals in person, even with social distancing and masking, has been great. “
GSO’s concert season for the rest of the year includes performances on October 28, December 2 and December 10.
âBy the fall of next year, we’ll be a beacon for the East County arts,â Tweed said, adding that plans are in place to do Nutcracker shows in partnership with BSG and the San Diego Ballet an annual winter tradition starting in 2022.
Visitors to the PVAC won’t have to wait until next fall for the privilege of viewing art exhibitions at the new Hyde Art Gallery. Located within the Center, until October 21, 2021, the current exhibit is a campus-wide showcase of artwork produced during the pandemic by faculty and staff.
âOver the past year and a half we have all been subjected to feelings of isolation and cynicism, but art and design have often provided this crucial alternative outlet to express and detail our unique experiences during the pandemic of COVID-19, âsaid the gallery director. Alex DeCosta.
Traditionally, the first exhibition of the fall semester is the exhibition of faculty and staff in the Department of Visual Arts and Humanities, but this semester, the Hyde Art Gallery has invited the entire Grossmont community to participate in sharing this distinctive body of work created during an ongoing health crisis against the backdrop of socio-political upheaval.
Typically, most exhibits will be static works of art in various mediums. âWe have sometimes hosted spoken word poets, small musical concerts, artist talks and artist workshops that run concurrently with any exhibition on display,â DeCosta said.
Distance learning students, teachers and staff working remotely, and the general public can request an appointment to view the exhibit. Proof of vaccination must be presented. To schedule a visit, contact [email protected]
For theater and dance performances, all guests must prove that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the performance. Masks are mandatory. Because social distancing will be in effect, tickets will be limited. The counters are open Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More information is available by calling (619) 644-7267.
For more information on the Performing and Visual Arts at Grossmont College, contact David Ogul, Acting Director of College and Community Relations at 619-644-7840 or email [email protected] .
– Journalist and photographer for over 30 years, Cynthia G. Robertson is the author of âWhere You See Forever,â a novel set in San Diego about finding a home for the heart. She is also the author of a blog on www.shutterbug-angel.blogspot.com, a unique devotion attesting to the daily miracles and beauty she sees in the nature around her. She is currently working on other books. Discover Cynthia’s work and order her book on www.cynthiarobertson.com.