Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Feb. 9 ETSU’s fine arts facility is on his list of projects suggested to be funded this legislative session.

“This was a recognition by the governor that this building has been a long time coming, it’s been a longstanding dream,” ETSU President Brian Noland said. “The governor recognized that, I cannot thank him enough for his support and recognition of the importance of the arts.”

Haslam suggested the Senate allocate $28 million to the construction. The total cost of the project is about $40 million, and to date, ETSU has raised about $8.2 million out of a goal of $10.5 million.

“It’s been a real interesting process to move through in which you’re seeking external funds for a building and there’s not the certainty that that building is in the governor’s budget,” Noland said. “Now that the project is in the governor’s budget, that is a variable that’s no longer in the equation and it is a much more compelling conversation for us to sit down with folks and talk about something that’s no longer a dream, it’s a reality.”

The inclusion of the project in the governor’s budget marks a major step in the realization of a long awaited ambition, Noland said.

“In the mid-1980s, there was a recognition that the university needed to invest in the arts for our students, for our faculty, for our community. What this building will do and the recognition in the governor’s budget of funding, is it will finally give us a home for the arts.”

The university is preparing for the next steps in the process: hiring architects to design the building and acquiring the property on which the facility will be constructed.

The university hopes to place the facility on the plot of land next to the Millennium Centre and expects to break ground in 2016.

“If things stay on schedule, for students who are freshmen at ETSU majoring in the arts or attending events, we’re on sequence to open this thing up during their undergraduate experience,” Noland said.