A rendering of the Epstein Family Amphitheater at UC San Diego. Credit: Safdie Rabines Architects.

Community leaders Daniel and Phyllis Epstein have committed to giving a $10 million gift to the University of California San Diego in support of a new state-of-the-art amphitheater, a big step in the university’s plan to become a top cultural destination.

In recognition of the gift, the 2,850-seat venue will be named the Epstein Family Amphitheater.

The Epstein family has contributed to the diverse cultural life of the university and San Diego through the support of arts institutions including ArtPower at UC San Diego and the San Diego Symphony.

“Given our commitment to music and the arts, and in particular to UC San Diego, the chance to contribute to a first-rate amphitheater struck a chord with us,” Daniel Epstein said. “The fact that someone can step off the Blue Line trolley and be at the amphitheater speaks to opening the university to a much more expansive and inclusive set of people, which is exciting.”

Phyllis Epstein said, “From the day we moved here 36 years ago, I said I would get involved with the university, and it has brought me much joy.

“What I get back is a sense of wonder, learning about things that I never knew existed. I am particularly thrilled about the teaching and learning opportunities the amphitheater will provide to students and the community. To learn, to enjoy, to discover the arts—what better gift can you give?”

The open-air amphitheater will showcase performing arts, featuring local and international talent in more than 300 performances a year. Its custom-designed acoustic shell serves as part of the stage, optimizing sound for a wide variety of productions, from large-scale rock concerts to classical quartets and theatrical dance. Projection equipment will provide patrons with an intimate view of performances, and allow for the screening of films and live events.

When it opens in the fall of 2022, the amphitheater will create a welcoming entrance from the main campus trolley stop of the UC San Diego Blue Line.

“The Epstein Family Amphitheater brings us one step closer to UC San Diego becoming a destination for arts, entertainment, and culture, in addition to education and health care,” Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla said. “The Epstein family’s visionary gift will provide an opportunity for the San Diego community to enjoy hundreds of performances that will be held there each year. We are also committed to ensuring underserved communities have access to many of these performances free of charge.”

In addition to providing a venue for global talent, the university is also committed to making use of the space for its theater, dance, visual arts, and music programs. The amphitheater will provide a new place for students to perform and gain hands-on experience in the live events industry.

Executive Vice Chancellor Elizabeth H. Simmons explained how the amphitheater aligns with efforts to strategically promote the arts across the university community, “UC San Diego’s highly regarded arts programs have a robust history of aesthetic experimentation and public engagement that make us a leader among peer institutions. The Epstein Family Amphitheater will create additional opportunities for diverse artistic expressions and advance our strategic goal of making UC San Diego an inclusive and welcoming destination for arts and culture while supporting our mission to serve the broader community.”

In programming the amphitheater, the university will highlight dance, theater, and music that appeals to the wide-ranging and evolving interests of UC San Diego students, often at no cost. If an event cannot be offered to students for free, the campus is committed to ensuring that the pricing remains accessible.

The new project will be able to support rigging, audio-visual systems, and broadcasting needs. Auerbach Pollock Friedlander is the theatrical consultant on the project.

While committed to the arts at UC San Diego, the Epsteins have also strengthened the university’s health care and research. They supported an endowed faculty fellowship at the Rady School of Management and research by internationally recognized Department of Urology Chair Christopher Kane, M.D. in addition to dedicating hours to the foundation board and other campus advisory boards.

This gift from the Epstein Family Foundation contributes to the Campaign for UC San Diego — a university-wide comprehensive fundraising effort concluding in 2022. Alongside UC San Diego’s philanthropic partners, the university is continuing its nontraditional path toward revolutionary ideas, unexpected answers, lifesaving discoveries, and planet-changing impact. To learn more, visit https://campaign.ucsd.edu/.

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