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Downtown Center for the Arts idea unveiled at UCR

Downtown Center for the Arts idea unveiled at UCR

(December 14, 2000)

A plan to create a center for the arts in downtown Riverside, backed by a $5 million pledge, was presented to the University of California, Riverside Foundation Board of Trustees Thursday.

Patricia O'Brien, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, unveiled the concept of an arts center to be located near the UCR/California Museum of Photography.

The project gained momentum last month when long-time arts supporter Anthony Culver pledged $1 million this year toward a downtown arts center. He promised another $4 million as UCR raises matching funds to complete the project. The arts center is estimated to cost $10 million apart from the cost of a building to house it, officials said.

A downtown location is being sought for a variety of reasons, said Amy Smith, director of development for the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at UCR.

"A downtown location will enhance our outreach efforts to the community," she said. UCR currently offers two programs, ArtsBridge and The Gluck Fellows Program of the Arts, which take the arts to schools and other community groups.

An arts center would invigorate the downtown area with creative energy and could serve as a center for collaborative efforts with Riverside Community College and the Riverside School of the Arts, Smith added.

Plans for the arts center call for a performance auditorium, gallery space, dance and art studios, a reading room and library, arts faculty and graduate student offices, a film and video viewing room, and storage space for the UCR/California Museum of Photography.

The downtown arts center will be needed despite the spring 2001 opening of a 55,000-square-foot Arts Building complex at the entrance to the UCR campus, Smith said.

"The arts complex on campus doesn't accommodate all the future growth of our programs," she said. UCR is expected to grow from 13,000 students this fall to 22,000 in 2010.

The new complex at UCR replaces space lost because of seismic upgrade work at Olmsted Hall, where much of the arts offices, classrooms, and performance spaces are currently located. The art center building will offer room for growth in arts programs at the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

When completed, the downtown arts center will be dubbed the Art and Barbara Culver Center for the Arts, bearing the names of Anthony Culver's parents. Art Culver was the co-publisher and general manager of The Press-Enterprise, and together with his wife Barbara, supported the arts.

Anthony Culver, a retired executive of The Press-Enterprise, has continued his parent's long-time support for the arts. He also participates in the arts as a street photographer, whose work has been exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New Mexico. Culver's photographs have also been exhibited at the UCR/California Museum of Photography and at the Sweeney Art Gallery. He has served on the Chancellor's Committee on the California Museum of Photography and is currently on the Board of the Sweeney Art Gallery and on the college of humanities' Board of Visitors.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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