Eleven years and $8 million later, UC Santa Cruz’s Quarry Amphitheater was transformed this year from an abandoned pit in the center of campus to the largest seated venue in Santa Cruz County. To celebrate this transition, the Dean of Students (DOS) hosted a free concert for UCSC students on Oct. 14. The show featured live performances by The Social Club, Bang Data and Chicano Batman.
While the reopening of the quarry garnered student interest, the DOS has no financial plans for hosting events of a similar nature in the future. Last year, Measure 67, which would have provided funding for large-scale events, did not pass. To put the $120,000 grand reopening concert together, the DOS received funding from the 10 colleges, the on-campus resource centers, KZSC, Educational Opportunity Programs, the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Association, the UC Santa Cruz Foundation and Colleges, Housing and Educational Services, said interim dean of students Lucy Rojas.
Due to the failure of the measure, the dean of students is advertising the Quarry Amphitheater as a place for students to gather rather than being primarily for events.
“I have a lot of hope that it will become a real center for students for gathering, community building. There’s no venue on campus that seats as many people,” Rojas said.
Historically, the structure of the quarry existed before the university itself, serving as a mining center for limestone from 1860-1946. The Quarry Amphitheater was constructed in 1967 and served as a popular hub for students and large events including concerts, commencements, protests and keynote speeches from figures such as Angela Davis.
In 2006, the university closed the Quarry Amphitheater due to severe dry rot which accumulated in the benches, creating a safety hazard. Renovation then was put off due to both financial constraints and a lack of prioritization of the project, Rojas said. However, many students continued to use the amphitheater until the area was fenced off for construction in 2016.
Following the millions of dollars in renovations, the amphitheater now meets current Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, which it had not when initially constructed. It is also outfitted with Wi-Fi and a permanent stage that will be open for use from sunrise to sunset when events aren’t scheduled.
On-campus organizations like KZSC, who helped sponsor the opening show, already have big plans for the future use of the quarry.
“I would love to see [the amphitheater] used as a space for bigger artists to come to Santa Cruz,” said hip-hop director at KZSC and third-year student Neroli Devaney. “[…] I would love to see names of artists who maybe are too big for The Catalyst, right now that’s our only option. We should utilize the size of the amphitheater to make it big in terms of student interest.”
Student groups interested in the venue will be able to reserve the venue online, free of charge, provided they are registered through the Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (OPERS) or Student Organization Advising and Resources (SOAR). Parties not affiliated with campus will be charged rates based on whether they are nonprofit groups. The DOS hopes to use funding from outside parties to fund maintenance of the amphitheater.
“I imagine that [off-campus rentals are] something we would turn to for funding. […] The quarry only lasted 34 years and it should have lasted 50 years, so the last thing we want to see is this space fall apart, but it requires a plan,” said DOS event and facility manager Jose Reyes-Olivas.
As far as future events like the grand reopening are concerned, funding will rely mostly on collaboration with other organizations.
“This concert was self-funded, meaning our department went around to all the college [organizations] and basically knocked on doors for money,” said production coordinator for the Quarry Amphitheater and member of the Social Club Alberto Reyes. “[…] Concerts take money and I think it’s one of those things where if we want to see them happen on a more frequent basis, students are going to have to pass referendums through [the Student Union Assembly] and all these other [organizations].”