It’s the end of an era. The Foothill-De Anza Community College Board of Trustees Monday night voted to permanently close the Flint Center for the Performing Arts at De Anza College.
The board voted 4-1, with trustee Gilbert Wong dissenting, to initiate a plan to replace the Flint Center with a new facility prioritizing De Anza students’ needs. The board left open the possibility of student/faculty housing and/or a new performing arts venue.
Opened in 1971, the 2,400-seat theater played host to the popular Celebrity Forum Speaker Series. Founded by former Foothill College dean Richard Henning, the series ended this year after 51 seasons. Despite that success, the building saw 17-24% occupancy any given year and suffered structural safety problems requiring nearly $50 million in retrofits.
The Flint Center discussion at the board’s June 10 meeting drew a large audience to the Foothill College dining commons, with dozens of attendees speaking for and against the closure.
Those wishing to keep the Flint Center open included members of the Peninsula Symphony and California Pops Orchestra, groups that regularly stage concerts at the venue. But a large contingent of students urged closing and replacing the building with student housing.
Several speakers advocated passionately for addressing the ongoing crisis of student homelessness. But pro-Flint Center supporters suggested that Foothill-De Anza would lose its “No. 1 P.R. tool” by closing the 48-year-old performing arts center.
At times, the dialogue devolved into a clash between young students who reminded the board that their first allegiance was to them, and older community members who lamented the loss of a favorite performing arts institution. But board trustees and some speakers pointed out the issue was not “either-or,” and that the Flint site could meet the needs of both students and the community at large.
For more on the story, read the Town Crier’s June 19 print edition.