Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has a vibrant performing arts program that includes seasonal performances organized by the university’s arts organization, Cal Poly Arts.
During the 35 year history of the organization, Cal Poly Arts has hosted artists from around the world at events throughout San Luis Obispo County, and expanded their program from classical music performances to broadway, comedy, dance, and more.
Learn more about the history of this incredible program, the pipe organ that lives in one of the performance halls, and how to see a current show below.
In 1985 Cal Poly Arts was formed with the goal of bringing “professional, diverse and dynamic performing arts” to the central coast. Original performances were primarily classical music until 1988 when theater, dance, jazz, readings, and exhibitions were added to the program.
The program continued to grow and expand over the years, and saw the launch of Stone Soup Festival in 1993, a series of free performances by local artists that takes place in Grover Beach.
In 1996 Cal Poly Arts saw much of their efforts go into the opening of the Performing Arts Center on the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus, which allowed them to expand the programming yet again in 1997, this time to include speakers, comics, and popular musicians.
In 2000 Cal Poly Arts began working with the youth of the community, and launched Poly Arts For Youth, a program that provides field trips and in-school activities for 6,000 local students.
Cal Poly Arts is able to continue to bring professional, diverse, and dynamic performing arts to the San Luis Obispo region through the help of their endowment campaign, which was started in 2002.
Cal Poly Arts brings artists, entertainers, speakers, and lecturers from across the globe to our community right here in San Luis Obispo in the areas of:
Guests can expect to see shows ranging from the Hip Hop Nutcracker to Mandy Patinkin, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, George Lopez, and many more performances right here in our backyard of San Luis Obispo.
Additionally, Cal Poly Arts has partnered with the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City to simulcast 10 live opera performances again this season from the Met to the Missoni Hall.
For more information, download the 2020 season brochure here.
Performing Arts Center
The Performing Arts Center (PAC) is where the vast majority of performances take place that are organized by Cal Poly Arts.
The PAC opened in 1996, and houses the Harold Miossi Hall, a 1,286-seat theater; the Alex and Faye Spanos Theater, a 486-seat theater; Phillips Hall, a 180-seat classroom; and the multipurpose Pavilion which can host 400 people.
Forbes Pipe Organ
The Performing Arts Center is also home to the Forbes Pipe Organ, an enormous 2,767-pipe organ on par with those found in great cathedrals and cities around the world.
The organ is a Fisk Opus 129 and is constructed with hand-forged pipes, mahogany casework, key coverings made of cow bone and ebony, and stop knobs made from cocobolo.
Installed in the Harold Miossi Hall in 2006, the organ is not only beautiful to see, the sound it produces is truly something special to experience in a lifetime.
Poly Arts for Youth
Poly Arts for Youth (PAFY) is Cal Poly Arts’ outreach enrichment program for the entire San Luis Obispo community. Artists already performing are invited to engage with the community in a variety of ways:
In Local Schools
A partnership with PAC Outreach has brought matinee performances directly to the local San Luis Obispo area schools. This allows the children who wouldn’t be able to see the performances attend the event, providing an exceptional experience for the students and the local community.
Cal Poly Masters Classes
Dance companies are often invited to perform, which provides an invaluable opportunity for Cal Poly Dance Students to learn from the principal dancers and dance masters / mistresses from the visiting companies who lead special sessions just for those students.
Occasionally an artist or performer will be available to host workshops that are open to the community.
Cal Poly Arts
1 Grand Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
(805) 756 – 6556