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Chico Performances 40th Anniversary

In 1981, Pat Kopp, who had come to Chico State in 1964 as a theatre lighting designer and stage manager, was given the directorship of the new office of University Public Events. Pat’s first big move was to begin a professional performing arts presenting series. There were four events in that first season. In 1983, Pat added staff to support the expanding program, and in 1997 new marketing director Daran Goodsell branded the season Chico Performances. Subsequent seasons quickly grew in number of events and the University and broader community were introduced to national and international artists that prior to Chico Performances would have required a trip to San Francisco to see talent of that caliber. Early seasons included The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Poncho Sanchez, Philip Glass, and The Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Pat partnered with local music festival and concert promoter Dan Dewayne to bring the Chico World Music Festival to the Chico State campus in 1999, and when Pat retired in 2001, Dan took the helm of Chico Performances. A champion of world music and diverse programming, Dan and the team grew and evolved the series, bringing Yo Yo Ma and his Silk Roads Project, Wynton Marsalis’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, Hugh Masekela ,Willie Nelson, and many, many more. During this period, Chico Performances grew from 20 performances a year to more than 50 performances in a season, making Chico Performances the largest performing arts series in the North State region.

In 2012, Dan stepped down and in 2013, Stephen Cummins became the third director of Chico Performances. In the 2018–19 season Chico Performances saw 40,000 arts patrons attend events—17,000 of whom were elementary school children attending the wildly popular Arts Education Field Trip Series. Chico Performances continues to evolve with the addition of a chamber music series in the new Zingg Recital Hall, which opened in fall 2016. A hallmark of the series has been creative collaborations with community groups and local artists like the Chico Voices series that celebrates local musicians and our commitment to dance through community dance recitals, residencies, professional masterclasses, and our Broadway Boogie street dances. Chico Performances continues to present marquee artists like Joan Baez, Vince Gill, Brian Wilson, Melissa Ethridge, and Buddy Guy and introduces new faces of live music such as La Santa Cecilia, Lake Street Dive, and Dustbowl Revival.

In 2021, Chico Performances finds itself, like much of the arts world, waking up after a pandemic-induced slumber. The performing arts and live events industry have been hit hard, but artists and those who support them are resilient and Chico Performances is committed to coming back strong.