As part of the arts initiative at ETSU, a plan for the construction of a new arts facility near campus was set into place and, over the past year, has made extraordinary progress.

Since last summer, the university has locked down designers and architects for the building and has officially begun the long process that will hopefully lead to construction beginning within the next fiscal year, near the start of the fall semester.

The lead architecture firm for the building is McCarty Holsaple McCarty out of Knoxville, but several other consultants and specialists have also been brought in on the project, including theatre, acoustical and pricing consultants, as well as engineering firms.

“The architects have met with faculty groups and campus leadership regularly since last summer to determine our needs, desires and priorities,” said Anita DeAngelis, director of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts. “It’s a very complex process to construct a building of this scope—for example, an engineering firm was hired to examine the site, dig core samples and other needs in preparation for the design and construction. The architects have developed preliminary designs, floor plans and elevations. At this point, we’re waiting for additional options from the architects.”

The new facility—which has not been officially named yet but is currently being referred to as “The Fine Arts Classroom Building”—will be located adjacent to the Millennium Centre across from campus on State of Franklin Road. The building will be home to both academic teaching spaces and performance spaces.

“We hope to include a percussion studio, instrumental rehearsal studio and vocal music rehearsal studio,” DeAngelis said. “When I say rehearsal, these activities are actually credit producing classes, not just extra spaces in the building. Theatre and Dance will have a shop area to build sets and another to design and construct costumes—again, these are credit-producing classes.”

Three performance venues are planned to be included, complete with dressing rooms and storage areas.

“When educating students in the arts, their education is not complete without an ability to perform before live audiences, so the performance spaces are an important concern,” DeAngelis said.

A hurdle that must first be overcome before any performance halls or dressing rooms are made, however, is the issue of funds. ETSU has had to raise 25 percent of the cost of the building locally, amounting to about $10.2-10.4 million.

“ETSU had a long wish list of what we wanted to have in the building, but the budget for construction falls considerably short of what we’d like to have,” DeAngelis said. “We’re waiting for a more refined report from the architects regarding the budget, but we already know we will need to cut several things out of the building and find other ways to stay within our budget.”

Thus far, ETSU and the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts have struggled to schedule theatre, dance and some music performances because the current facilities have limited technical capabilities.

However, with the new arts building, a much wider range of performance possibilities will be opened up, along with opportunities for higher quality film and animation screenings, literary readings and lectures.

“I really think it’s hard for us to imagine how much the new arts center will impact the university and the region,” DeAngelis said. “I’m looking forward to the day when the building finally opens.”