FACT SHEET - FLINT CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
Why does the district need to suspend programming at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts at this time?
The district needs to determine the structural safety of the building before booking performances for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2019, and ends June 30, 2020. If the district entered into contractual agreements for 2019-20 performances, it could face substantial financial and legal risks that could result from an the unplanned closure of the theater. Scheduled performances would have to be cancelled if the report cin dicated a serious public safety risk.
In addition, the one-year suspension of programming will allow for a thorough review of the building’s renovation/repair needs and community participation in discussion of the Flint Center’s future.
What steps are being taken to assess the Flint Center’s structural condition?
Concern about the Flint Center’s condition dates back to 2014 assessments that identified several structural issues that would need attention in the future. These included points of potential failure that could impede quick exit by occupants after an earthquake, water ponding on the roof, exposed rebar, and cracks in the concrete.
These findings followed the district’s unexpected discovery of serious seismic safety issues at the Flint Center parking garage that needed immediate attention. After studying a variety of options, the district invested approximately $33.5 million in retrofitting the garage, with construction beginning in summer 2016. Costs included architectural and engineering services, project management, testing, investigation, and inspection as well as construction.
Since the assessment of the Flint Center theater building indicated a generally safe condition, the district delayed a more detailed assessment until a later time. In the fall of 2018, the district began the steps to commission a new study of the building’s condition and asked the management company that operates the Flint Center to delay programming for 2019-20 until the assessment was completed.
The district expected that the assessment report would be finished in February, which still would have allowed time for the management company to move forward with 2019-20 bookings. Regrettably, there was an unplanned delay in commissioning the report. This occurred during a period of management transition, and the delay did not come to light until early this year. As a result, the condition assessment cannot be completed before the 2019-20 booking window closes.
What will happen to Celebrity Forum?
With the one-year suspension of programming, Foothill College will not offer Celebrity Forum for the 2019-20 season.
When will the new condition assessment report be finished? What will it cover?
The district does not expect the report to be completed earlier than April. The assessment includes a comprehensive evaluation of the building including structural components and fire and life safety systems such as alarms, sprinklers, signage and signaling as well as accessibility.
Why didn’t you wait for the new report before making this decision?
The operator of the Flint Center would need to move forward now to book performances for 2019-20 and cannot wait for the report in April, which is well beyond the booking window. The district and the Board of Trustees acted out of concern for public safety as well as the district’s potential liability if it had to cancel a year’s worth of scheduled programming if significant safety concerns issues are discovered in the assessment.
Board members have a fiduciary duty to act prudently and protect the district’s assets. The district does not want to take the legal risk involved in cancelling a year or more of contractual agreements, which could expose it to substantial financial losses. If the Flint Center assessment finds substantial structural safety issues, the Board of Trustees is prepared to suspend programming in the Flint Center before June 30, 2019.
How will the district decide what happens to the Flint Center after the assessment is completed?
The Board of Trustees will have a public discussion of the assessment's findings and determine subsequent actions. The public will be kept informed and is welcome to participate. We anticipate that this meeting will occur on May 7.
Could Measure C bond funds be available to renovate the Flint Center once we know what it needs?
Most of the Measure C bond funds approved by district voters in 2006 have been spent or are committed to other projects. While the district used some Measure C funds to renovate and upgrade the Flint Center parking garage, certificates of participation became the primary funding source after project costs escalated because of the extensive seismic retrofitting required. The scope of the seismic retrofitting was not included in Measure C budgeting because the full cost wasn’t known at the time.
Any renovation costs associated with the Flint Center theater building are still unknown. The new condition assessment that is now underway will be the first step in determining the extent of what may be needed.
How many performances are there a year at Flint Center for the Performing Arts?
There were 80 events at the Flint Center in 2017-18, including rehearsals.
How does De Anza College use the Flint Center?
Although it occupies a prominent spot on the De Anza campus, the college has not used the Flint Center for instruction for many years. The theater is run for the district under contract and focuses on programming for the broader community.
Did the district ever consider tearing down Flint Center and putting international
student housing on that spot?
In 2015, as it wrestled with addressing the Flint Center parking structure’s extensive seismic problems, the district commissioned a feasibility study to examine opportunities for public-private ventures in the areas occupied by the parking structure and Flint Center. Student housing was mentioned as a possible area of exploration in the consultant's initial proposal, but trustees expressed reservations and the concept was not pursued any further. The completed feasibility study presented seven options, two of which included a small number of college-affiliated housing units intended as employee transitional housing as part of larger developments. However, the governing board ultimately rejected those proposals and voted to fully renovate and seismically retrofit the parking garage and maintain the Flint Center as a theater.
Citing the limited availability of land for building on campus, the 2016 De Anza College
Facilities Master Plan identified the site occupied by the Flint Center as a possible
future location for a new arts complex to replace old arts classrooms next door.
Chancellor Judy Miner has said that she does not support this proposal.
When was the Flint Center built?
Construction began in 1969 and the Flint Center opened in 1971. It is a five-story concrete building housing an auditorium with 2,300 seats, a stage with fly tower, and back-of-the-house facilities for theater and performance support.
What upgrades has the district made to Flint Center?
The theater’s sound system was upgraded in 2003, seating was replaced in 2002, and the lobby was expanded, which included a restroom upgrade, in 1999.
Posted Feb. 5, 2019