Published August 17, 2010
Volume 18, Number 8

Firehouse Arts Center Inaugural Gala Slated for September 17  

It is being billed as “a once-in-the-lifetime-of-our-community event,” and after six years of planning, two years of construction, two elegant fundraising parties, and multiple benefits that included a bocce ball tournament and a soccer team hike, Pleasanton’s Firehouse Arts Center will celebrate its completion with a not-to-be-missed Opening Night Gala on Friday, September 17.

As befits the mission of the new downtown center, the debut event will feature live performances throughout the facility. While enjoying an exciting sampling of the arts, ticket holders will also partake of fine wines and a moveable feast as they tour the building’s theater, art gallery, classrooms, and inviting outdoor spaces. The evening will culminate with the inaugural lighting of the Firehouse Arts Center sign and its stunning glass marquees.

The physical transformation of Pleasanton’s historic fire station, built in 1929 of locally manufactured bricks, began two years ago in July, when the City Council awarded an $8.4 million construction contract to W.A. Thomas Co. However, the vision started several years previously, when the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Foundation (PCAF) spun off from the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to champion the construction of this new home to the arts. The final product is a 17,000-square-foot showcase comprised of a 227-seat flexible studio theater, 2,000 square feet of high-quality gallery space, two large art classrooms, and a spacious grand lobby for receptions and events.

Actively fundraising since its 2004 incorporation, PCAF efforts have included a $1 million collective contribution made by its board of directors in September 2006. Additional monies have come from a combination of private funds, corporate donations, and foundation grants, such as last year’s $5,000 Hacienda Community Involvement Grant, funded by Hacienda Business Park companies that contribute to the Hacienda Helping Hands (HHH) campaign.

Community support has been obvious throughout the campaign, expressed, for example, through the “sale” of named theater seats and the commemorative bricks that are now being installed on the outdoor patio. As of July, over $85,000 had been generated by brick sales alone, many of them purchased by local families honoring a loved one or a pet or their own personal commitment, according to PCAF campaign director Debbie Look.

While programming for the multiple-use facility is still in progress, the Firehouse Arts Center is expected to be busy with musical and theater performances, lectures, films, workshops, and demonstrations at least five nights a week, from Wednesday through Sunday.  The City’s goal is to present high quality performances that will not only draw people to the theater, but will bring them downtown to eat and shop, thus enhancing economic vitality in the area.

In addition to regular row seating, the theater has the flexibility to offer cabaret-type tables and chairs. As city staff continue to identify potential artists and secure performance dates, they are also exploring partnering opportunities with local restaurants, caterers, and wineries to offer hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and wine to patrons while at the theater. 

The Firehouse Arts Center is located at 4444 Railroad Avenue. Tickets for the Opening Night Gala are available at www.pleasantonartsfoundation.org or by calling (925) 846-1007. A free public Grand Opening Celebration and Dedication will be held on Saturday, September 18.


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