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Mission Statement / History


Cal Poly Arts serves the Central Coast and Cal Poly communities as a presenter of public arts events to a diverse constituency. As a presenter, Cal Poly Arts provides a broad program of high quality, professional touring performances, exhibitions, and readings while also assisting with the educational needs of students through various artist-residency activities.

History of the Organization

Cal Poly Arts was formed in 1985 as a small classical music presenter. By 1988, largely through the involvement and support of the local community, the presenting series was expanded to include other performing arts disciplines (theatre, dance, jazz) as well as exhibitions and readings.

By 1990, Cal Poly Arts had integrated world music and dance, folk/traditional music, and family programming into the series. In 1991, the organization commissioned its first work, a concert of re-discovered Mexican Baroque music (which was successfully recorded and toured by Chanticleer). In 1993, the Stone Soup Music Festival – a series of free performances presented in outlying communities – was launched.

In 1996, with Cal Poly Arts spearheading the drive to build a new venue, the Performing Arts Center opened. In 1997, the organization again expanded the scope of its programming by including speakers, comics, and pop/country acts. In 2000, we began Poly Arts for Youth, an outreach program serving 6000 local school children through Performing Arts Center field trips and in-school arts activities. The year 2002 marked the beginning of our endowment campaign, which has since increased the size of our endowment fund six-fold.

Today, Cal Poly Arts continues its goal of bringing a professional, diverse, and dynamic performing arts series to the Central Coast.