Categories: Kristen Schweizer, THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: “The Joan” Marks First New Construction at Liberty Station in Nearly a Decade

Photo credit: Karli Cadel

By Kristen Nevarez Schweizer

January 23, 2024

The groundbreaking ceremony of the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Performing Arts Center marks the Arts District Liberty Station’s first new construction project in nine years. The future home of Cygnet Theatre has been in the works since 2018 and is expected to open in the Spring of 2025.

“Thank you for braving sub-70 degree weather to be with us today,” greeted Cygnet Theatre co-founder and Artistic Director Sean Murray. He described the 32,000 square foot center at Truxton and Roosevelt roads as a future world class arts and culture destination. It will house Cygnet productions and rent space and studio time to burgeoning theaters, dance companies, and nonprofits. 

Murray’s audience of approximately a hundred guests (bundled in mid-weight coats) warmly applauded his announcement that the center is nicknamed “The Joan,” after pivotal philanthropist and major donor, Joan Jacobs.

(Left to Right) Sean Murray, Bill Schmidt, Dr. Irwin Jacobs, Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, Kathleen A. Krentler, Barbara Bolt, Lisa Johnson, Mayor Todd Gloria, Scott McMillin. Photo credit: Karli Cadel

Jacob’s husband, Qualcomm co-founder Dr. Irwin Jacobs, also addressed the crowd, “Employees want to be proud of the neighborhoods they work in, so pouring into a community is an important aspect of any business.” The Jacobs family has a history of investing in Liberty Station, as his son and daughter-in-law are responsible for The Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High. Irwin and Joan Jacob’s granddaughter, U.S. Congresswoman Sara Jacobs was also in attendance. 

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria balanced the event’s excitement with a reminder that he spent his morning touring the flooded Southcrest community. Gloria reminded, “Arts provide a $10.8 billion dollar impact in our region, creating jobs and attracting people to our cultural offerings” and that every nickel is needed for paving San Diego streets and assisting our homeless population.

Speakers had to stop mid-speech each time a plane roared overhead. Murray, a veteran local showman, was unfazed, “I’m used to it from my Starlight days.” Mayor Gloria quipped, “They say politics is just show business for ugly people!” Thankfully, the ‘Point Loma pause’ will not be an issue for the state-of-the-art theater, as the building will be equipped with advanced features to mitigate air traffic noise.

The Joan & Irwin Jacobs Performing Arts Center will occupy historic Naval building 178, a 66,649-square-foot lot in the center of the dining, retail, and arts district with ample parking. It will include two state-of-the-art theaters–a 289-seat proscenium theater and a 150-seat flexible black box studio (nicknamed “The Dotty” after philanthropist Dorothea Laub)–alongside custom support spaces, art gallery space, two open-air bars, and audience foyer. It is projected to bring 50,000 theatre attendees each year. 

Lisa Johnson, President & CEO of the NTC Foundation expressed, “A landmark project needs a landmark, and [The Joan] is it.”

Previous arts coverage of this story can be found here.

Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.