A Fine Arts Center has long been a goal for the university as well as the Johnson City region. That goal will break ground this summer when the first construction package is released in early June.
The facility will house many important functions. There will be classroom space and performance space for the theater, arts, music, bluegrass and dance departments.
“Inside the building, there will be a recital hall, which will accommodate around 200 people; a large auditorium, which will accommodate between 750 people to 1300 people; and there will be a flexible theater, which could house 250 or so people in that space,” said Jeremy Ross, chief of staff for external operations. “There will be recording studios for Bluegrass, as well as an art gallery for exhibitions, which will be open to the community as well as ETSU students.”
ETSU has acquired two pieces of property for the new fine arts facility, which will be built adjacent to the Millennium Center.
The state of Tennessee requires the university to privately raise 25 percent of the cost of the building.
“We have initiated a campaign and have raised $8 million out of the required $10.2 million match,” Ross said. “The rest of the funds are from the state of Tennessee, and they’re approved by the state building commission.”
According to Ross, this will be a $40 million project, with 75 percent coming from state funds and the other 25 percent from private funding.
“We still have to finish the design documents,” Ross said. “There will probably be multiple fitting packages, but we should have completed everything in July 2018.”
According to Ross, the Fine Arts Center will consist of mainly brick and glass to complement the Millennium Center, and they will function together.
“As far as the region goes, we’ve been talking about a fine arts facility for almost the past 30 years; it’s a long held dream,” Ross said. “A lot of people have been involved with this — many presidents and many faculty members, coaches and students. It’s just been a dream to have an area with expanded cultural opportunities.”
The new facility will not only give students the chance to expand their cultural opportunities, but also give them the chance to take a theater class or a dance class. It will allow those programs, as well as their students, to expand and achieve a higher level of excellence.
“This dream is coming close to a reality and is a great example of a partnership, as well, because the students benefit, but over 10 million dollars had to be raised, which includes the state, the university, the city of Johnson City and the county,” Ross said. “I think it’s a great example of what can be accomplished when hundreds of thousands of people have a common goal for the good of a region.”