CSUMB cabaret darkens door amid organizational issues.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
The Black Box Cabaret, CSU Monterey Bay’s student-run music venue and pub, will be blacked out for a while. The BBC is in transition. With its renovation debt nearly paid off, CSUMB’s University Corporation will stop subsidizing the black-walled concert hall and students will run the show. But with classes recently starting back up, the BBC needs more students to get involved.
The Otter Student Union, which manages the BBC, needs five more board members, says OSU Chair Edward Sena, and the venue won’t reopen until the board gets organized and creates a plan for operating the BBC. “If it is going to be student run,” Sena says, “I want it to be run professionally.”
Sena turns off his Santana ring tone while students play ping pong and air hockey inside CSUMB’s student center. The building, formerly the university’s library, is the closest thing CSUMB has to a student union building. Down the road, the campus has plans for an official one, but for now the BBC is the only facility students can claim as their own.
This is Sena’s first year as OSU chair. The business major, who wears dark, wide-rimmed glasses, recalls a Mystic Roots reggae show he saw at the BBC. “Although it is a small venue, it has always had a lot of potential,” Sena says.
The building was constructed in the 1940s and used as a cantina by the military stationed on former Fort Ord. In 1996, a handful of CSUMB students and faculty members converted the place into a makeshift performance center.
Long a hangout and space for open mics, students fought to keep the venue from closing in 2000 when the BBC was shut down for building code violations. After demanding a referendum, students voted to raise fees $40 a year to fund a more than $1 million renovation. The BBC reopened in 2002.
“[The BBC] is part of the university’s history and obviously has been a beloved student asset,” says Scott Faust, university spokesman.
Since its reopening, the venue has hosted a steady stream of free concerts from hip hop crew The Pharcyde to the late reggae star Mikey Dread. In 2007 students invested $40,000 to upgrade the BBC’s sound system with a 32-channel soundboard, punchy speakers and six monitors.
Students also loved the BBC for its reasonably priced local beer. Plus, it was the only source of non-Sodexho food on campus. But what the BBC will become now is up to the OSU.
“The students have been asked to come up with a plan,” Faust says. “The university recognizes that it’s a great resource and wants to make sure it’s being used for student programs and events.”
Sena wants to make a lasting impression on the university’s 900 new freshmen. “I would like to see full houses of student events,” he says. “If we are going to open it, we are going to have a big opening.”
As when to expect the BBC’s lights back on, Sena says to check back in November.