The Ahmanson Foundation has awarded California State University, Los Angeles a two-year $1.5 million gift to update the University’s State Playhouse.

“This gift from The Ahmanson Foundation underscores the crucial role the arts play in our society,” said Cal State LA President William A. Covino. “We’re grateful to the foundation for its generous support of higher education and the arts.”    

The renovation of the 360-seat theatre will include new seating, floor finishes and paint, as well as the latest audio/video, sound and lighting equipment.  

A revitalized State Playhouse will help Cal State LA promote a robust learning environment for students in the performing arts. The faculty of the University’s College of Arts and Letters, many of whom are nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, are committed to nurturing the next generation of actors, dancers, designers, musicians and scholars.

Each year more than 25,000 students and community residents enjoy art at the State Playhouse. It has also served as the home of the Mariachi Summer Nationals, Angels Vocal Art Summer Festival, and the Grammy Summer Camp. The playhouse offers more than 230 days of performances and rehearsals.

“The renovated playhouse will allow for flexibility of the performance space and will improve the overall experience of the audience,” said Rennie Schoepflin, dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Cal State LA. “It will help our faculty better prepare our students in the creative arts.”

Built in 1958, the State Playhouse is one of the oldest buildings on the Cal State LA campus. The theatre was constructed as a performance venue to showcase works of art by students, but over the years its audience has grown beyond the boundaries of the University.    

“Our theatre is an invaluable resource for the university and our surrounding communities,” said Cal State LA Executive Vice President Jose A. Gomez. “For more than half a century, the State Playhouse has enriched the cultural landscape of this area through music, theatre, and dance.”

The State Playhouse has been the site of stellar performances, including David Mamet’s American Buffalo, with the award-winning Deaf West Theatre, Shakespeare’s Romeo and JulietThe Cave Dwellers by William Saroyan, Jonathan Larson’s critically acclaimed Rent, Philip Glass’ Hydrogen JukeboxHot Nights: A Salsa & Mariachi Performance, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The renovation of the State Playhouse is scheduled to begin in summer 2017.

For the past 30 years, the Ahmanson Foundation has been a major supporter of Cal State LA and its mission to transform lives and foster thriving communities across greater Los Angeles. The foundation has donated more than $3 million to various University projects, including the Luckman Theatre, the Honors College, music programs, and the arts.

"The Ahmanson Foundation has contributed greatly to our University and to the region," said Janet Dial, vice president for University Advancement. "We're pleased to receive this gift that will help our students and enable the University to better serve the community."

The Ahmanson Foundation serves Los Angeles County by funding cultural projects in the arts and humanities, education at all levels, health care, programs related to homelessness and underserved populations, as well as a wide range of human services.