New Center for the Arts Provides Big Opportunities for MSA

Kalyani Ryaru, Reporter

A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, October 27 will celebrate the official opening of the Center for the Arts at Novato High School. This new, state-of-the-art addition to the NHS campus will provide Marin School of the Arts students with an interdisciplinary space to showcase their multiple talents.

After a multi-year construction process, the $23.5 million Center for the Arts, according to the Marin IJ, is finally up and running. When entering the new Center for the Arts, the art gallery is to the left of the lobby and a student-crafted photo booth to the right.

2021 senior and MSA product design student, Jack Hagerman, built this photo booth last year.

Image by Kalyani Ryaru

There is a display window in the front of the 450-seat auditorium. A dressing room that doubles as a classroom is also featured in this new building (a side-room within the auditorium).

2016 Bond Measure G provided funding for major projects throughout NUSD, including the Center for the Arts and the Center for the Sciences at Novato High.

Vice Principal Michelle Cortez explained that the opening of these two buildings will be celebrated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony with guest speakers and tours of these two buildings. Jan La-Torre Derby, the superintendent of NUSD, the principal of Wright Contracting, the construction company that built these centers, and MSA senior Nina Ortiz will be speaking at the event. The MSA Wind Ensemble will be playing at the ceremony and the art gallery will be open for viewing as well. There will be tours of both the Center for the Arts and the Center for the Sciences available.

Cortez oversees MSA, wellness, and equity at NHS. Given that the Center for the Arts has been paid through tax dollars, Novato sees the importance of making this a community space.

Cortez noted, “From the equity perspective, I really want to make sure that that building represents our community values and the community values of inclusivity and making sure that everyone feels welcome in that space.”

The Center for the Arts will partner with San Jose Middle School for these events including guest speakers and concerts. Cortez mentioned that the ultimate goal is to partner with neighboring elementary schools as well.

MSA students will have the opportunity to display their artwork in the Center for the Arts. There are currently only 12 people allowed in the art gallery at a time due to COVID restrictions. At the beginning of the school year, staff artwork was being displayed, but student work has been and will continue to be added.

Cortez explained that in a meeting with the MSA staff they “picked four different exhibits and four different themes.” Cortez added, “Each teacher gets to decide how they are going to address that theme.”

When asked about the selection process for student art display, Cortez explained, “We’re trying to be really inclusive and unfortunately we don’t have the ability to use every single space of the wall, but the idea is that we celebrate that kids are making art and that everyone deserves to be in this gallery space.”

MSA junior, Brianna Georgeson, is a Sculpture and Ceramics 2 and Wind Ensemble student. For the Cube Project in Sculpture and Ceramics 2, Georgeson created a Jack-in-the-Box sculpture titled “Want a Burger?”. This piece will be displayed in the art gallery.

Photo and piece by Brianna Georgeson

Georgeson is also a flutist in the MSA Wind Ensemble. The Center for the Arts will also provide a space for instrumental music students to perform. The previous performing space for MSA instrumental music concerts was the Old Gym because the stage in the old Performing Arts Center was too small for larger bands.

“It’s definitely going to be a lot better than the gym. It’s going to feel a lot more professional,” said Georgeson.

Although COVID policies are going to create obstacles for the performing arts to utilize the Center for the Arts, creative solutions have been established for now. The Big Band Dance, which is a collaboration among the MSA jazz, vocal, and dance departments and San Jose Middle School, will take place in the back of the Center for the Arts on October 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. This year’s Big Band Dance theme is Swinging Under the Stars.

Homecoming will also be held behind the Center for the Arts. According to Cortez, the goal is to have theatre begin using the Center for the Arts in the spring with the hopes that COVID protocols will be less restrictive by then. For prospective MSA students, tours will be hosted there as well.

The Center for the Arts is open for the public to take a look every Thursday from 3-5 p.m.

As a significant upgrade from the old Performing Arts Center, the new and improved Center for the Arts will provide MSA with a beautiful new space for student artists of any discipline to showcase their work and share it with the community.