UC San Diego: Daniel and Phyllis Epstein Donate $10 Million for State-of-the-Art Amphitheater at UC San Diego

Daniel and Phyllis Epstein have committed to provide a $10 million gift to the University of California San Diego in support of a new state-of-the-art amphitheater, signaling a major 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 support of arts institutions including ArtPower at UC San Diego and the San Diego Symphony. The opportunity to bring an extraordinary performance space to the university sparked a dream.

“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,” said Daniel Epstein. “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 described the amphitheater as a chance to enlarge the scope of what UC San Diego brings to the community. “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,” she said. “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, everything 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,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “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 celebrated 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.

“UC San Diego students are emerging and accomplished artists deserving of a world-class stage that they will bring to life,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Alysson M. Satterlund. “We also imagine the Epstein Family Amphitheater will serve as the home for new and long-held traditions that support welcome week activities, new student and family orientation programs, convocation, teaching and learning as well as improvised art, community building and fun.”

Designed with entertainers of the highest caliber in mind, the space is able to support even the most complex rigging, audio-visual systems and broadcasting needs. Auerbach Pollock Friedlander are the theatrical consultants on the project. Renowned leaders in design of performance environments, they have an extensive portfolio including the Santa Fe Opera’s Crosby Theater, Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, Shanghai Grand Theatre and the renovation of the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House. The Epstein Family Amphitheater will inspire great performances and provide an inviting, enjoyable experience for patrons.

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 countless hours to the foundation board and other campus advisory boards.

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