Opinion: Focus of Palo Alto evolving into something worth smiling about

Becca Raffel and Sam Kelley

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Palo Alto finally is beginning to make a change for the better as a softer, more artistic side of the community is coming out.

The possible development of the Arillaga buildings at Stanford University, Stanford’s new Bing Concert Hall and the theater at Palo Alto High School itself have an underlying theme in art. This surplus of new construction calls for us to take a step back and examine the colossally positive evolution of Palo Alto into a center of the arts.

What will Palo Alto look like in three years?

There will be two theaters within a mile of each other, the Stanford “cultural” center and the new Paly theater as centers of social interaction and artistic innovation. These new buildings can serve as an outlet for the city of Palo Alto and as a gateway to the world of art that inspires so many, and is used by so few. Palo Alto has needed this transition to art for quite some time.

One of the more controversial buildings, a theater proposed by Palo Alto resident John Arillaga to be included in a complex of buildings near the Caltrain station, is haunted by a controversy regarding the Palo Alto City Council’s negotiations for it. The theater is destined to be donated to Stanford University and possibly run by the local acting organization Theatre Works upon completion, according to a Palo Alto Online article.

The 844-seat Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University is planned to open on Jan. 11, 2013. Although mainly predominated by Stanford students, it will also offer opportunities for Palo Alto residents to enjoy, as most Stanford resources do.

Even more central to Paly students’ lives, a new performing arts center is planned to be built next summer at Paly and completed for the 2015 school year. The building intends to seat up to 583 people, which is about 30 more people than the current Haymarket Theater. It also intends to raise the bar in terms of a visually pleasing interior.

So, those are the facts. Now they raise the question of why the sudden pooling of resources into creativity?

Perhaps a new era has dawned upon Silicon Valley’s gem, an era in which art takes a new, top, place among Palo Alto’s bucket list.

Unfortunately for seniors, and possibly juniors at Paly, these changes will only take root after most of us have moved away from Palo Alto. But the possible impact of these projects on future generations is immeasurable, and we could not be more pleased. Art has been proven to positively impact the brains and happiness of people of all ages, and personally, we think that this change could not come any sooner.

Finally Palo Alto is starting to take a step into the right direction. Living in the Bay Area and attending Paly can be stressful, and an outlet such as art could provide the perfect antidote. For the past few years, Palo Alto students, although having the opportunity to partake in basic artistic programs at school and in the town, have lacked a truly creative, artistic immersion to the degree that we would have liked.

Today, growing up in Palo Alto we view ourselves as the children of the Silicon Valley, innovators of Facebook and Apple. Ten years from now, maybe Palo Alto will be home to Broadway stars rather than Marc Zuckerberg. The former offers a much more desirable atmosphere, and we’d like to see it happen.