MasterCard pavilion to host livelier acts

Say hello to the new MasterCard Performing Arts Pavilion, which will be located right beside the Green Music Center. If all goes according to plan, it is expected to open around the time of summer 2015. 

Jessica Anderson, the associate director of communications of the Green Music Center,  gave the inside scoop of this new addition to Sonoma State University. The building is expected to bring mainstream performing artists to the campus. 

In addition, it will not cost students a dime, as the structure will be entirely funded by private donors. 

“The Pavilion will be a place where you can put your rock’n’roll, your hip-hop; you can do dance, you can do performances,” said Anderson. “It’s being built to take into consideration all the things like amplified music, big touring bands...just having the capacity to bring in really popular artists.”

The performing arts departments will benefit due to the accommodations the pavilion will offer; it is uniquely shaped not only to serve for concert purposes, but also to be compatible for dance performances and plays. 

The general plan lays out 3,000 fixed seats in the forefront, and there is room for about 7,000 more people on the lawn. 

This amounts to a total capacity of roughly 10,000 people. By having the capability to fit this number, artists will be more inclined to perform at the MasterCard Performing Arts Pavilion, which makes the possibility of fame more realistic.

Joan Weill is playing a large role in the construction of the building. She was the chairwoman of the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation in New York City, the country’s largest dance facility. She has been a huge advocate for including dance in the pavilion.  

“We’re also taking into consideration theater performances. This is going to be one of the new homes for our theater arts and dance students,” said Anderson.  

The excitement that comes out of adding a brand new pavilion on campus is loud, however big questions still rise about the cost of such an investment. 

“I am happy to report that there will be no impact on tuition; it’s entirely covered by private donations,” said Anderson. 

Though the buzz is just now circulating, according to Anderson, the pavilion project has been a long-term goal that was conceived in the late ‘90s. 

It was only last summer that MasterCard and Sonoma State University entered into a partnership. MasterCard donated $15 million; of that sum, $12 million was directly put into the construction of the project. 

With less than $5 million left to officially begin the construction, Anderson sounds hopeful that private donors will come forward to put the pavilion on its way. 

“We have a very active donor base,” said Anderson. “We’re talking to a lot of people right now to try to get that $5 million together to get the pavilion really going, but the students will not have to pick up the tab in any way.” 

Now that everyone can rest easy that this new development will not have any effect on students’ wallets, exploring the blueprint of this new building is even more exciting. 

The structure is meant to resemble other famous constructions so that the new MasterCard Performing Arts Pavilion can be one that is competitive to other similar buildings and attractive to the public. 

“There are two comparisons that I like to make when talking about the pavilion. The first is the Shoreline Amphitheatre [in Mountain View], but it’s also very similar to the Hollywood Bowl in Southern California,” said Anderson. 

Anderson made it clear that this was a well thought-out project. 

“The ways in which it’s similar is that this is a 100 percent outdoor amphitheater. It has a fixed outdoor stage, it’s got all of the rigging and all of the infrastructure that makes it possible to have a performance be amplified, which is something we wouldn’t be able to do in Weil Hall,” said Anderson. 

The inspiration was presented in the ‘90s by the original visionaries Donald and Maureen Green, for whom the Green Music Center is named, and Sonoma State University’s President Ruben Armiñana and his wife. 

They looked at the success of the outdoor festivals in Massachusetts and imagined the possibilities of transplanting that same idea in Sonoma where the weather is beautiful, the lawns are green. 

When these ideas took off, Weill Hall was the first to be funded, until MasterCard came in and generously donated money towards the project. 

“So this is really just a completion of a vision that was already started more than 10 years ago and is really just kind of now starting to take shape,” said Anderson. 

In a few years, Sonoma State University may be more diverse than ever. By offering elements such the Green Music Center and adding the thrill of the MasterCard Performing Arts Pavilion, the school has an opportunity to reach out to new audiences and broaden its horizons.