SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A dream more than 20 years in the making at Allan Hancock College will become reality in just a few years.
Funding was recently approved in Governor Jerry Brown's 2017-18 Budget Act that will allow a long-anticipated Fine Arts Complex to move forward.
For Fine Arts department chair John Hood, who has been at the school for two decades, many years of hoping and wishing has finally come to an end.
"Having this news that it's going to go forward is a dream come true," Hood said.
The proposed 68,000 square foot, two-story facility will include many features, including a recital hall and much-needed space for the school's art, music, dance, film, photography, drama, graphics, multimedia arts and communications programs.
"The college and community have been planning for this project for many years. It is exciting to see the vision fulfilled," said Hancock Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D. said in a statement. "This is a testament to the time college staff dedicated to developing the project and working with the state chancellor's office and lawmakers to ensure the project was included in the budget."
It will mark a dramatic change to the way Hancock student currently attend classes. Right now, fine arts are housed in a number of different buildings, including some that date to the 1960's.
"We got the opportunity to bring everybody together," Hood said. "We're so spread out on campus right now that we have fine arts in Building O and Building S and across the street with dance and theater, so we're going to bring everybody under one roof and it will a little bit more collegial for us."
At a cost of $48 million, the new building will be the largest on campus. It will be located on what is now only a dirt field, adjacent to the Performing Arts Center and Buildings C, K and S.
"I think it's going to be really important and just exciting for the new students," said freshman Taylor Crowder. "They're not going to have to go as far. There's going to be less buildings they have to find. Everything is going to be updated and just really easy to use. I think it's going to be really great."
While Crowder may be no longer be at the school when the new building opens as projected in 2021, the recent Santa Maria High School graduate points out how important of an addition it will be to the school.
"A lot of people are going to want to come here and it's going to elevate the level of education people are getting. It's going to make it stand more on foot with a UC or a CSU with arts majors," Crowder said.
For students like Crowder, who is studying for a career in animation, the new building will allow students to learn in a modern, cutting-edge environment in fast-changing industry.
"There's a lot of technology involved with that," said Crowder. "A lot of it is if you have access to the better equipment or the better programs, it makes it a lot smoother of a process and it makes it a lot easier to learn and you're learning the things that employers are going to expect you to know."
According to Hood, design of the Fine Arts Complex will include input from both faculty and students.
"It's going to be a collaborative with all the faculty members and even our students," Hood said. "The students are excited to throw in their ideas so we can make it an appropriate space that will be here from decades to come."
A main feature of the new building will be a recital hall that will be funded through a $10 million donation that was given the the school by Patty Boyd.
The former faculty member died in in 2012. Her contribution was the second largest gift in California community college history and the largest ever to the Allan Hancock College Foundation.
"Patty Boyd was dedicated to passing on her love for music and the arts. Now, the college can use her generous gift to ensure her legacy will allow others in the community to do the same," said Walthers in a statement.
Groundbreaking on the Fine Arts Complex is expected in spring 2019. Completion is targeted for summer 2021.
"It will be the shining gem of the Central Coast," said Hood. "It will be the place to come for performances and all the studios, so I think it will be a place people will want to visit."