By Brenda Gazzar, SGVN

ARCADIA – Singer and songwriter Paul Anka will open Arcadia Unified School District’s new $20million Performing Arts Center with an inaugural benefit concert on Oct. 27, while officials will unveil the facility to the public with a ribbon cutting on Thursday.

The 40,000-square-foot center on the northwest end of the Arcadia High School campus includes a 1,200-seat multi-use theater for drama, dance and music performances and classes, said Jim Leahy, the school district’s director of construction projects for Measure I and the facilities master plan.

The new center includes a Black Box theater that seats up to 125 people, a dance studio with a sprung wood floor and an large orchestra room with nearly sound-proof practice rooms.

“This high school was built in 1952 and there were plans to build an auditorium at this time right here but there wasn’t enough money,” Arcadia Unified Superintendent Joel Shawn said Monday while standing on the main theater’s stage.

“This has been a desire, a dream, a wish of this community for 60 years … This building would not have been built without those bond dollars.”

The construction of the Performing Arts Center was paid for by the Measure I school district bond, which raised $218 million for facilities when it was approved by voters in 2007.

The new center – which has a sophisticated tunable acoustics system – will also be able to accommodate entire grade-level assemblies for the first time, Leahy said.

But while the $20 million facility is nearly complete, efforts are already underway to fund the maintenance and a full-time theater manager for the state-of-the-art center. The nonprofit Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation was created in July mainly to support the new center.

“An Evening with Anka” at 8 p.m. on Oct. 27 will kick-start the foundation’s fundraising efforts and aims to bring in

$1 million dollars with this one event, Arcadia Councilman Mickey Segal, the foundation’s chairman, said.

Ticket prices for the benefit concert range from $100 to to $2,500, with the latter price including a meet and greet with Anka, a private tour of the facility and foundation membership.

Anka, a 30-year client of Segal’s business management and accounting firm, has agreed to perform for free.

“There will be only one grand opening” of the center, Segal said. “It will give everybody in the community an opportunity to see what can be done at the facility. That was my point.”

Segal likened the facility to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, noting it was just smaller in size.

As part of the foundation’s efforts, naming opportunities of up to $250,000 are available in the facility.

To purchase tickets for the Anka event or to learn more about the foundation, go to theperformingartscenter.ausd.net or call 626-821-1781.

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Performing Arts Center, located at 234 Campus Drive, will take place at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

The district’s schools will also be showcasing the center’s main theater with various performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

[email protected] | 626-578-6300 ext. 4496

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