Education at San Jose State extends beyond the edges of the urban campus and starting in 2016, students will count the Hammer Theatre Center as a learning space and the community can once again count the Hammer among the downtown performing arts centers.
San Jose State and the City of San Jose finalized an agreement for the university to operate the Hammer Theatre for three years on Dec. 1 when council members signed an amended agreement. The space, previously managed and operated by the San Jose Rep, has been closed since June 2014 when the theater company shut down.
“Opportunities such as SJSU’s involvement in Hammer 2.0 with the City of San Jose only come along once in a generation,” said Lisa Vollendorf, the dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts. “This partnership will allow the university, the city and the community to work together to bring the Hammer Theatre Center alive again, bringing diversified, high-quality artistic, cultural, and educational programming to this distinctive venue.”
The city council authorized city staff to negotiate a contract with SJSU in June 2015, when university and city staff members began to assess infrastructure needs for the building. They are in the final stages of making improvements and purchasing equipment to get the building ready for renters. As with all of the other city-owned cultural facilities, there will be an annual city subsidy to offset operating costs.
“Thanks to San Jose State, I think we have something to offer the community that is going to be extraordinary,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo, at the Dec. 1 meeting.
Vollendorf said the university is assessing potential SJSU programming that can move into the facility in spring 2016 while also creating an inquiry process and rental agreement forms. The goal is to create a financially sustainable model that provides space for SJSU, nonprofit arts groups and professional performances in the downtown core.
“We are building this model to be responsive to university, community, and financial concerns, so we are asking everybody to be patient while we get staffing in place and build mechanisms for inquiries, rentals and scheduling,” Vollendorf said.