The iconic blue theatre building and 535-seat venue, built in 1997, is currently owned by the city and used occasionally for local arts events and retail ventures. The SJSU's proposed plan would see the theatre continued to be used as a rental facility alongside the college's uses.
"This partnership really is a win-win," Lisa Vollendorf, dean of humanities and the arts at SJSU told the newspaper. "It helps build future audiences of arts and cultural activities as part of our educational mission."
The Rep, the city's former largest theatre company, was founded in 1980 on a shoestring budget and produced a mix of dramas, comedies, musicals and classics. Despite ongoing city funding, the organisation struggled financially for several years before being shut down in 2014, devastating the local arts community.
A second pitch for operating the theatre came from the Ad Hoc Committee on Hammer Theatre, helmed by San Jose Rep founder Jim Reber, Symphony Silicon Valley head Andrew Bales and former mayor and arts philanthropist Susan Hammer and husband, Phil hammer. The group would like to see the venue become home once again to a resident theatre company.
"We don't have a professional resident theater in the city," Phil Hammer told Mercury News. "It is essential, just as a major museum and a symphony orchestra is essential." It is still undecided which proposed plan will go ahead and the City Council is said to be voting in the near future.