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Opening Doors
Western breaks ground for new School of Visual and Performing Arts building

“You have just stepped into a dream.” The university community crossed the threshold to that dream, evoked in the words of WCSU Dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts Dr. Dan Goble, with the long-awaited groundbreaking ceremony held Oct. 17 to mark the start of construction of Western’s future SVPA Center.

The groundbreaking celebration at the site of the new building, adjacent to the Westside Campus Center on the university’s Westside campus, attracted several hundred faculty members, staff, students and friends from the Danbury community. Representatives of state government and higher education also attended the event, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, former Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.

“This is about dreams becoming vision and reality,” Goble said in his remarks at the ceremony. The dean described the building and the art, music and theatre arts programs that it will house as a source of cultural and educational transformation for the school, the university and the region.

The 135,000-square-foot facility, expected to be completed in 2014, was designed by an award-winning team of architects and technical consultants led by the architectural firms of Holzman/Moss/Bottino and Amenta/Emma. The building will house a 350-seat concert hall, a 350-seat theater, an art gallery, a recording studio and state-of-the-art rehearsal, classroom and studio art facilities.

“For decades, many will benefit from what we start today,” said WCSU President James Schmotter. He noted the project has enjoyed the support of many governmental and educational leaders including Rell and Malloy.

“This is a proud moment for me,” said Malloy. At a time of economic distress, the governor emphasized that the project fulfills a necessary purpose in both educational and economic terms, providing new opportunities for arts education and cultural enrichment as well as significant employment during the construction of the building. “We must be activists,” Malloy affirmed. “What we need to do is to make sure we have a higher education system that is second to none.”

Boughton called the groundbreaking “bigger than big,” holding the promise of a tremendous and lasting impact throughout the region.

“Western is drawing in world-class musicians,” he said. “They will settle here, raise families here and become part of the fabric of the community. We have a true partnership between the city and the university that has elevated the community with theatre arts, and it will put people to work.”

The SVPA Center will bring together Western’s art, music and theatre arts departments to promote the development of the arts disciplines, and to advance the emergence of Western as the premier regional center for cultural and artistic excellence. The university’s location in Fairfield County places the SVPA in the midst of a region that is home to many artists and friends of the arts, and only a short distance from the international artistic and cultural center of New York City. This proximity also has enhanced Western’s ability to attract leading professionals in the arts to join the SVPA faculty, further strengthening arts education at WCSU.

 View a photo gallery of the ceremony and arts celebration:

Above image: The late afternoon event culminated in a cabaret-style celebration of the arts inside the Grand Ballroom on the Westside campus with student performances from the theatre department, opera ensemble (Cidalia Alves is pictured), the jazz orchestra, and musical theatre. Student, alumni and faculty artwork were on display as well.

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