State releases $8.9M for WIU Center for Performing Arts

MACOMB, Ill. (NEWS3) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the Illinois Capital Development Board (CDB) awarded $8.9 million to Western Illinois University to restart the Center for the Performing Arts (CPA) project on the Macomb campus.

According to WIU University Relations, in April 2014, the state announced funding for the center’s construction. A second groundbreaking was held as a result, and the CDB began the construction document bid process based on the original architects’ renderings. However, the project stalled following the November 2014 election. According to Interim Provost Billy Clow, the release of the $8.9 million will allow for an update by an architectural team. The $8.9 million is part of the reappropriated $89 million recently announced by Gov. Pritzker and the CDB. Construction could begin as soon as mid-Fall 2020, Clow added.

Officials said the Center for Performing Arts was first approved in December 2002, when the Illinois Board of Higher Education recommended a $22.5 million FY’04 appropriation for CPA planning and design. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in April 2011.

“We are greatly appreciative to Gov. Pritzker, the General Assembly and the Capital Development Board for releasing the funds to revise the original concept, and begin the process, which we are hopeful will finally lead to the fruition of the WIU Center for the Performing Arts in Macomb,” WIU Interim President Martin Abraham said. “We look forward to the day we can begin building this amazing facility that will benefit our students, faculty and staff, as well as the region. Thank you to our legislators, businesses, alumni, friends, donors, the General Assembly and the governor for their continued support of Western.”

WIU said the Center for the Performing Arts (formerly called the Performing Arts Center), will support the academic mission and programs in the College of Fine Arts and Communication, will include an approximately 1,400-seat proscenium theatre auditorium, a 250-seat thrust stage and a 150-seat studio theatre. There also will be dance, jazz, percussion and theatre rehearsal studios and classrooms to facilitate the academic mission of the building, which complements numerous academic programs; dressing rooms adjacent to the theatres; a scenery/design workshop and a costume shop; a box office; administration offices and a loading dock that will accommodate semis and buses for professional touring companies and orchestras.

University officials said the CPA, which will be located on the southwest side of campus along Western Avenue, will connect to Browne Hall and consolidate performance spaces close to classrooms in Browne, Memorial and Sallee halls. Corbin Hall is adjacent to the center and includes a fine arts floor for students to complete the living and learning aspect of an arts quad.

WIU said the CPA will also include several naming opportunities, including the performance venues, rehearsal spaces, the gallery, scene shop, lounges, VIP room and green rooms. Individuals may also purchase naming rights to seats in the proscenium and thrust theatres.

In 2011, the WIU Foundation announced that Tate Lindahl, a retired WIU administrator and Macomb resident, had arranged for a seven-figure bequest in his estate plans to assist in the maintenance of the center. In 2013, alumni Kenneth and Lorraine Epperson pledged a seven-figure gift for the center. WIU said the 5,000 square-foot iconic lobby will be named in their honor, and Herb and Nancy Strong of Macomb have funded the donation of the Herb and Nancy Strong Steinway Concert Grand Piano, which will reside in the center.

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