New name for VPAC with a big gift

From the “in case you missed it” file…  The grand performance venue at California State University, Northridge has been known as the Valley Performing Arts Center since it opened in 2011.  While student many productions have been priced out of the venue in recent years, due to restrictions on venue use and departmental budgets, the 1,700-seat theater has hosted an impressive array of world-class performers over the years, creating a strong and rather glamorous niche for varied arts genres in the northern San Fernando Valley.

VPAC will soon get a new name, however, as a large gift will redub the center “The Soraya”, or more formally  the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts. We hope this gift will also bring new programs, perhaps those that might allow CSUN students further access to this partially publicly-funded venue?

All the best to the recipients and honorees.  This venue is a valued asset for Southern California, and gifts like this are an important part of ensuring longevity to our treasured performing arts.

Check out the upcoming season

Email release (adapted) follows.


VPAC gets a transformative gift!

The Nazarian FamilyL-R: Soraya Sarah and Younes Nazarian, with their daughter Sharon Nazarian


Dear Friends,

I have incredible news to share with you. CSUN President Dr. Dianne F. Harrison has just announced that Valley Performing Arts Center will be the recipient of a transformative gift (Read President Harrison’s message here).

Younes and Soraya Sarah Nazarian, along with their children and grandchildren, have stepped forward to make one of the most generous contributions to an arts organization in Los Angeles history. CSUN will be the recipient of a $17 million gift that will change the name of the 1,700-seat venue to the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts. Its everyday name will be The Soraya, in honor of Mrs. Nazarian, an accomplished sculptor and the family’s beloved matriarch.

Every day I witness audiences and artists fall in love with this theater – something about its warm wood walls, its curves, its scale and proportions offers a welcoming embrace for everyone. Nestled in a grove of California Sycamore trees on the southern edge of the CSUN campus, the performing arts center has grown to become integral to the University’s identity and its student life. Some people call it the gem of the Valley. Our new name couldn’t be better suited because “Soraya” is also a Farsi word for gem. For Los Angeles performing artists as well as musicians and artists from around the world, it has become both a destination and a home. For audiences from all walks of life, it is a venue known for its commitment to inclusion and diversity.

In the coming months, you will come to know so much more about the Nazarians, their visionary leadership in Los Angeles, and the ideals that motivated them to become one of the “first families” of the arts in Los Angeles. It is with humility that I thank them.

I know you would like to thank them too. Join me on September 16, the Opening Night of the 2017-18 season, for an opportunity to honor the Nazarian family in person.


Thor Steingraber,
Executive Director

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