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With the pandemic keeping theaters shut down throughout the state, one area Art Deco treasure has been given a $1 million lifeline on the future in Pittsburg.

The Pittsburg City Council voted last week to welcome the massive gift from the John H. and Regina K. Scully Foundation for the restoration of the 100-year-old California Theatre on Railroad Avenue.

Opened in 1920, the 350-seat theater was designed in the Beaux Arts architecture style and hosted vaudeville acts, films and other live entertainment until closing in 1954. Efforts to save and restore the property began in 1994 with a major infusion of $7.6 million in 2013 for further improvements.

According to Janis Glover of the Pittsburg Arts and Community Foundation, the new grant will be used to expand current capacity to 500 seats and to reinforce the balcony support structure. Other improvements will fund renovation of lighting, safety, sound and electrical systems. The foundation is working with the Making Waves Foundation to facilitate the grant. PACF will manage the restoration program.

Mayor Jelani Killings said during the Oct. 19 City Council meeting that he hoped the funds “would lead to inspire the next generation of Pittsburg students” in pursuing education in the arts. Killings and other council members hailed Glover’s efforts in landing the grant, calling it a fitting achievement to cap her years at the local foundation. Glover, a longtime former city employee, is retiring from her 14-year post at PACF.

Council members also hailed the contribution of the Making Waves Foundation in arranging the grant from the Scully foundation. Dr. Carey Hawkins Ash of the Making Waves Academy spoke to the council during the Monday meeting and reiterated his group’s commitment to the Pittsburg school community. Making Waves, which operates the charter school in Richmond, had hoped to establish a charter school in Pittsburg but has since scuttled its plan.

Ash, the academy’s managing director of community engagement, told the council that the Making Waves Foundation still plans on committing $2 million in funding toward education programs in Pittsburg. Making Waves focuses its work on supporting under-served and low-income students in college-track programs. The Academy reports a current enrollment of 1,088 students. The school’s programs are currently being delivered online-only due to the pandemic.

Ash told the council he hopes the funding boost for the theater will lead to more arts programs for under-served local students. As Glover added, “so our students can thrive through the arts.”