Despite providing students world-class exposure to the arts and theatre, Western Connecticut State University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts has been without a place to call home since it was founded in 2006.
That’s about to change.
On Monday, Oct. 17, university officials broke ground for a $97 million School of Visual and Performing Arts Center to house the school on the Westside campus. Construction and funding was approved by the state legislature and Gov. M. Jodi Rell and preliminary planning and design work has been completed. On March 25, 2011, Gov. Dannell Malloy gave final approval for the bonding to permit the groundbreaking.
Following an outdoor ceremony and ceremonial shoveling of dirt at the location where the new facility will be constructed, the hundreds of people in attendance moved into the Westside Campus Center Ballroom. The festivities there featured a performance by the WCSU Jazz Orchestra, selections from Irving Berlin’s “I Love A Piano” by the department of theatre arts, and selections from Menotti’s “The Old Maid and the Thief” by the WCSU Opera Ensemble. A flash mob performance of a song from “Sweeney Todd,” the theatre arts department’s fall production, also entertained the crowd.
A sample of art work by WCSU students, faculty and alumni were available for viewing during the ceremony. The exhibit has moved to Higgins Annex on the Midtown campus where it will be on display from October 20 through December 1.
The new facility, expected to be complete in 2014, was designed by an award-winning team of architects and technical consultants lead 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.
The SVPA brings together art, music and theatre arts departments for the better development and promotion of the arts disciplines. The school has the potential of establishing Western as the premier regional center for cultural, intellectual, and artistic excellence.
The school will capitalize on its location in Fairfield County, home of many artists and friends of the arts, and within easy distance of the artistic and cultural centers of New York City. This proximity has allowed the university to draw faculty from leading professionals in the arts, which translates into offering students a world-class educational experience.