Chico courts the CSU Summer Arts Program

University one of four candidates to host popular arts-education series

Would Chico be a good place for the California State University to station its Summer Arts program? That’s what a contingent from the Chancellor’s Office was in town to find out Tuesday (March 29), and local folks were rolling out the red carpet.

The program’s administrators, along with several current and former course instructors, were put up at the Hotel Diamond Sunday night and on Monday toured campus arts facilities and dorms, met with President Zingg and several of his vice presidents, and had lunch in Trinity Hall with about 30 local boosters, including the city manager, the mayor, various arts mavens and commissioners, the dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and at least one newsweekly editor.

The program, which began in 1985, is a series of intensive two-week-long courses that bring about 350 university students together with professionals in several fields, from visual arts and music to new media and theater. For the past 10 years it has been held at the Fresno State campus, but administrators are considering moving it.

Four campuses are competing for the prize. One of them is Fresno State, which wants to keep the program. The others are Chico State, San Francisco State and Cal State Monterey Bay.

We lunch guests had been invited to share our enthusiasm for Chico and tout its love of the arts and its many artists and arts programs, which we did, of course, gushing with embarrassing eagerness and pride.

As we learned more about the Summer Arts program, we realized it would be a perfect fit for Chico—and Chico for it. Summer is slow when it comes to arts events, and this would fill a void and create some real excitement. Not only would it bring a group of talented young people to town, but it also would offer dozens of performances, lectures and other public events for the community to enjoy.

If you’d like to tell the program’s director, Jim Spalding, why you think the Summer Arts program should be located at Chico State, you can e-mail him at <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,106,115,112,97,108,100,105,110,103,64,99,97,108,115,116,97,116,101,46,101,100,117,34,62,106,115,112,97,108,100,105,110,103,64,99,97,108,115,116,97,116,101,46,101,100,117,60,47,97,62)) } </script>. For more about the program, go to

This week’s cover feature represents something unprecedented for the CN&R—the first story to be run twice. It originally appeared more than 30 years ago, in the Feb. 2, 1978, issue, when the CN&R was just 6 months old.

Its author, Rick Adams, was a staff writer at the time, and also our resident techie. I remember traveling with him to an exhibition in Santa Monica of new-fangled word-processing machines, big hulking things that used discs that were 5 inches square and truly floppy.

The machines turned out to be more than we could afford, and it was several years before we surrendered our trusty Royal Standards and our Compuserve Jr. typesetting machine, but Rick was the guy who convinced us to embrace new technology, and we’ve never stopped doing so. He was also, as you’ll see, a terrific story teller. And this story merits retelling, because it describes a deep paranoid streak in the American psyche that remains to this day.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.