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Globe Newspaper Group » Featured » RENOVATION, RENEWAL & RENAISSANCE


East Bay Center for Performing Arts set to open after $16 million renovation

Month-long series of celebrations, performances and

special events begins October 1, 2011

Richmond, CA (September 9, 2011)…As it nears completion of an extensive $16 million renovation, the East Bay Center for Performing Arts in Richmond is set to open to the public with a month-long series of celebratory performances and special events on October 1, 2011.  Transformed from an aging and ailing building back to its original glory, the vibrant community arts center that works with thousands of children and young adults each year is poised to be the fulcrum for a neighborhood renaissance.

“We’re thrilled to be in the home stretch, and preparing to welcome the community to our transformed home,” said Jordan Simmons, the Center’s Artistic Director.  “We are spearheading a renaissance in Richmond – to be an anchor for the transformation of this neighborhood and to help new generations of students train in the arts, imagine, and create a better life for themselves and their community.”

During the month of October, the public is invited to a series of events and performances to celebrate the completion of the renovation and re-christen the Center as it moves into the next phase of service to the community.  The events include:

  • · Saturday, October 1 – Premiere Gala (ticketed event)
  • · Thursday, October 6 – Community Launch Party
  • · Friday, October 7 – Hip Hop International
  • · Saturday, October 8 – Iron Triangle Legacy Family Day
  • · Sunday, October 9 – Luz de tradición, a Mexican Rural Fandango
  • · Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16 – World Premire of Konyifafa
  • · Friday, October 21 – Jazz Heritage Concert
  • · Saturday, October 22 – Mien Ceremonial Feast and Cultural Festival
  • · Saturday, October 29 – Faculty and Alumni Concert
  • · Sunday, October 30 – YPSO Concert with Richmond Chamber Ensemble

· Sunday, October 23 – Iron Triangle Legacy Film Screening

· Friday, October 28 – Iron Triangle Legacy Theater Showcase

Renovation & Renewal

Originally built in 1924 as a dance hall, music store and flower shop, the Winters Building became home to the East Bay Center for Performing Arts in 1973.   In the decades to follow, the Iron Triangle neighborhood dramatically changed, gaining notoriety as center of violence and chaos in Richmond.  At the same time, reflecting the changes in the neighborhood, the building’s exterior began to age and fade – even as the Center’s programs were providing more than 2,500 children and young adults each year with high-quality artistic instruction and direction.

A public-private partnership that included the City of Richmond, the Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation and the California Cultural and Historical Endowment embarked on a campaign to reinvigorate the neighborhood starting with the renovation of the Winters Building into a vital community center.  The two-year, $16 million renovation has added an additional 7,500 square feet of public spaces, dramatically transforming the building into a more open and welcoming facility ready to accommodate students and visitors of all ages and physical abilities.

“Helping to create this new center has been such pleasure,” said architect Mark Cavagnero, who developed the design for the renovation.  “I can’t teach music, drama or dance, but when I first visited; I couldn’t help but get excited and want to be a part of it. For me, this has meant the opportunity to give them a great place to come together, a place that has character and excites them. This is what architecture strives to do. I want our effort to be worthy of what they do and who they are.”

The building’s exterior has been dramatically restored to its original glory, with ornate Renaissance detailing in addition to new first floor windows and doors. Inside, the new features include a new climate-controlled 2,500 square-foot ground floor theater, a 200-seat second-floor proscenium theater, and an additional 5,000 square feet of rehearsal and teaching space.  In addition, the building is now fully accessible, with large modern restrooms and other amenities designed to make audiences of all ages and physical abilities feel welcomed and comfortable.

“The East Bay Center is one of the best kept secrets in Richmond,” said Rep. George Miller, a U.S. Congressman from the East Bay. “Year after year, it .has provided young people and the community with so many opportunities and shown what is possible—even with relatively modest resources—when a cultural center grows organically from the community. This renovation might well be a linchpin for a broader revival in a neighborhood that has had a shortage of good news.”

“The new building means a new home for me,” said Cuauhtemoc, 16 year-old Richmond student at the Center.  “It means love for the students and teachers and that the staff and community care about the students.  They rebuilt the old building to make it better for us and for Richmond, to give Richmond a good name.  We can show people all around that Richmond has talent.”

Established in 1968, immediately following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., East Bay Center for the Performing Arts engages young people and the community in developing works of art, events and performances that are inspired and driven by the locale, history, events and rich ethnic culture of the area.  The Center focuses on helping students produce “community driven” works as part of its ongoing core work of raising young engaged artists. These include films, photo exhibits, poetry days in the park, original theater productions, historical narratives, dance theater works, ceremonies of remembrance and heritage and more. The Center provides a welcoming place with engaging programs that teach young people to artistically express their feelings, experiences and hope in a way that develops qualities to help them grow and flourish.

For more information and an updated schedule of events, visit

Written by Globe Newspapers

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