Upcoming campaign centers on new Performing Arts Center

The three-year-old proposal for new fine arts facilities could become a reality by 2020.
An artist's rendering of the proposed Performing Arts Center. Photo courtesy of Campus Facilities

The campaign to build a new Performing Arts Center is in development, and Director of Development Communications Catey Terry said the “quiet phase” would begin July 1.

“We typically remain in a quiet phase until we have half the funds we need, and then we announce it to the public,” Terry said. “Deans were asked for a list of projects, but no one has a firm list of the exact priorities. The provost and his staff are reviewing the deans’ priorities.”

The proposal for the Performing Arts Center was first published in 2008 and includes a 1,000-seat concert hall and a 350-seat recital hall. The center will house faculty and students.

“The university has a need for a Performing Arts Center and started making plans for what that might look like,” O’Brien said. “These things take a long time to plan.”

Private donations will be a large portion of the financial support for the new building.

“In general, we’re looking for donors for the building,” Terry said. “In the past we’ve received state funding, but we don’t see that as realistic for this project.”

MU plans to raise funds the “old fashioned way” of appealing to alumni, family and friends of the university for financial support.

“With the downturn in the economy, we’re always looking for gracious donors to support the arts,” senior French horn player Michael Hill said.

Total funds must be identified before MU begins construction.

“Typically, campaigns last about eight years, so we’re looking at 2020 for a completion date,” Terry said.

O’Brien said he “wouldn’t even put a guess” on when the building will be completed, though renovation is badly needed.

“The current facilities were built in 1961,” O’Brien said. “They were outdated probably the next year.”

Hill said the band and orchestra hall sometimes leaks water and has no acoustics whatsoever – the sound just dies. He said it is the worst university-level hall he has seen.

“The fine arts building is really old, too small to hold the musicians we have now, and we’re running out of practice rooms – there are only about 40 total,” Hill said.

The building was designed for about half of the current faculty.

“We’re running out of new faculty offices,” Hill said. “Some of them are just glorified custodial closets, which shouldn’t be the case.”

The lack of proper fine arts funding has hit other entities in Columbia as well. The Missouri Theatre, where MU’s band often performs, is undergoing bankruptcy.

“Ten million dollars was raised to redo the Missouri Theatre,” Hill said. “Unfortunately, they couldn’t raise that money back.”

Hill cites the Missouri Theatre as a temporary solution to fit the music school’s needs.

“It would just be good if the university would just buy the Missouri Theater and lease it,” Hill said.

O’Brien remains optimistic about the Performing Arts Center project.

“I don’t know when it will happen, but it will happen some day,” O’Brien said.

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