Work to Begin on Performing Arts Complex

July 23, 2013

ALLIANCE, Ohio – Next week, the University of Mount Union will move forward with construction plans for its performing arts complex, which will come in the form of a significant renovation and addition to the west end of the existing facility. The project emerged as a priority during the University’s campus master planning process, which was carried out in partnership with Cleveland-based architectural and engineering firm Westlake Reed Leskosky.

The University’s current performing arts facility, which includes Cope Music Hall, Rodman Playhouse and Crandall Art Gallery, has served students well for nearly 60 years, but today, the facilities have limitations in terms of code, accessibility and infrastructure. Programmatically, a renovated and modernized facility will better meet the needs of the ever-increasing number of enrolled students who indicate an interest in participating in the visual and performing arts at some level during their time on campus.
“A thriving arts program is critical to our mission to prepare students for fulfilling lives, meaningful work and responsible citizenship,” said Dr. Richard F. Giese, president of the University. “Not only do students have an opportunity to major in these fields, but a great number of students participate in art, music and theatre at the co-curricular level. It truly adds to their intellectual enrichment as well as their social and personal fulfillment, and a renovated facility will only increase these opportunities.”

Throughout the course of the past few months, work has been underway to prepare the site for construction, including asbestos abatement and efforts related to computer network infrastructure and electrical lines. The next step is the installation of a construction fence, which is slated to take place on Saturday, July 27. Demolition of the west end of the facility will begin on Monday, July 29. The majority of the initial demolition work will be to the interior of the building and the outside courtyard, and more visible, external demolition efforts are likely to begin in mid-August. The anticipated completion date of the facility is December 2014.

The facility will include a new lobby, proscenium theatre, black box theatre, green room, scene shop, costume shop, dressing area, art gallery and choir room as well as a renovated band room. The total cost for the project is estimated at $13 million.

Cope Music Hall will remain operational during the construction phase, although some performing arts events will need to be held off site as a result of the work. The Department of Music and Department of Theatre have partnered with various Alliance community organizations and venues to ensure the continuance of the University’s robust performance schedule. In addition, art exhibits will be held in Beeghly Hall until the new facility is complete. Those interested in attending any of the University’s performing arts events are encouraged to verify locations as they make plans. A full calendar of events is available on the Mount Union website.

“Needless to say, we are very excited about these improvements. Not only does it fulfill a need on our campus, it also nicely complements our partnership with the City of Alliance to revitalize the arts through the downtown renovation project,” said Giese. “We’ve invested more than $100 million in our campus facilities and grounds in the past decade, and this is simply the next phase in providing an enhanced environment, not only for our students, faculty and staff, but also for the betterment of the Alliance community as a whole.”

The Performing Arts Complex project coincides with the construction of a new Health and Medical Sciences facility on the south end of Bracy Hall, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014. This new facility will house Mount Union’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program, slated to begin this coming fall, as well as possible future health-related programs.  In addition, it will become the new home to the University’s master’s program in physician assistant studies.

“We are uniquely fortunate in that we don’t have to assume any debt for either of these projects, thanks to the generosity of our engaged alumni and friends and the good work of our advancement staff,” said Giese. “Together, these two facilities provide for many synergies, but most importantly, they enhance the educational experiences of students. That is our number one priority.”

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