City Beat

Sacramento City Council approves $5 million contribution to performing arts studio

Supporters of the new arts center at the Fremont Adilt School gather outside the building on Thursday.
Supporters of the new arts center at the Fremont Adilt School gather outside the building on Thursday. efletcher@sacbee.com

The Sacramento City Council gave a big financial boost Tuesday night to a major arts project in midtown.

By a unanimous vote, the council agreed to contribute $5 million to the Studios for the Performing Arts in the former Fremont School for Adults on N Street.

The project’s supporters have already signed five local organizations as tenants for the 38,000-square-foot space: the Sacramento Ballet, Capital Stage Company, Alliance Francaise de Sacramento, Calidanza Children’s Chorus and the Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange.

Dozens of artists, dancers and ballerinas filled the City Council Chambers in support of the project, which will serve as a performance, office and rehearsal hub. Those supporters applauded after the council vote.

Nearly a decade ago, project supporters had plans for a new building at the corner of 14th and H streets that would have cost $25 million. That plan fell apart when the finances never materialized.

“This is an amazing thing that we’ve been able to get to this point,” said Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents the central city. “This is a moment whose time has come.”

The city’s contribution will come from $2.5 million out of money it receives for maintaining the Cal-EPA Building next to City Hall and another $2.5 million from the city’s economic development fund.

The Studios Operating Co., which will run the facility, will contribute $1.6 million to the project and will be responsible for cost overruns in the construction budget, according to a city staff report. The company will rent the building from the city for $1 a year and will be responsible for maintaining the site.

Construction is scheduled to begin next month and could be completed by November, in time for the arts organizations to conduct holiday season performances. Roughly 75 percent of the facility’s space is leased, said Richard Rich, chairman of the organization’s board. Several local arts groups have expressed interest in the remaining space.

Councilwoman Angelique Ashby raised concerns about the amount of work needed to update the facility.

“I hope that this money is enough,” she said. “I’m proud of where we are, but I’m not satisfied.”

Jody Ulich, director of the city’s Convention and Cultural Services department, said the facility would create “an arts campus that encourages collaboration” and would rejuvenate a key midtown property.

Ulich said the Studios will give schoolchildren direct access to artists through annual scholarships, internships, free live performances and summer workshop programs.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at www.sacbee.com/citybeat.

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