Two estate gifts from the Opening Doors capital campaign and a grant match will go directly toward funding a new performing and visual arts center.
The Opening Doors capital campaign gift of $7 million and the grant match together equaled $10 million.
Terry Langan, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the donations toward the new facilities is “nothing but good news.”
“You can’t have a strong liberal arts university without solid programs in the fine arts,” Langan said. “I do think we have solid programs in music and art history in spite of lack of facilities.”
Langan said the university is still a long way away from breaking any ground on the project.
“We don’t have a set timeline. There’s still a lot to be done,” Langan said.
Langan is not sure when the money will be available.
“You don’t build a building these days for $10 million and certainly not $10 million that’s coming from an estate,” Langan said.
Langan hopes the building includes: a concert hall, a black box theater, art storage and galleries, classrooms for film studies, a new theater program and appropriately-sized rehearsal spaces.
Possible locations for the building are on Summit Avenue or in the place of the Brady Educational Center, Langan said.
Sophomore Lindy Fischer participates in musicals at St. Catherine and is in its fall musical opening this week, “The Bride of Brackenloch.” Fischer said she is at St. Kate’s for rehearsals six days a week for 3.5 hours, and she said a performing and visual arts building on the St. Thomas campus is long overdue.
“We’re a liberal arts college and to not have a formal arts building is just a little contradictory with our formal title,” Fischer said.
Langan attended the choir and band fall concert Oct. 21, and said places like the Woulfe Alumni Hall are not the best venues for choir or band concerts.
“The whole time I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had, (on campus), a concert hall for these wonderful musicians to perform in and for the audience to listen to,’” Langan said.
Langan also said this new building would better accommodate the music department for rehearsal space. For now, the Festival Choir practices in the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel and the bands and other choirs practice on the BEC auditorium stage.
“It’d be great to have practice rooms that suited our needs,” Langan said.
Sophomore Willie Hustead will be the first student from St. Thomas to graduate with a musical theater degree from St. Kate’s.
Hustead was active in his high school’s theater program, and said his family and friends were shocked to hear he was not attending a college with a theater department.
“I knew that there would be an opportunity somewhere. I just didn’t know where,” Hustead said.
Graduate student Jim Koth participates in different Twin Cities film projects and said he wishes a building like this were open when he was an undergraduate student at St. Thomas.
“As a liberal arts school, they have a huge obligation to fulfill film and photography as a cornerstone,” Koth said. “St. Thomas needs to provide a creative outlet.”
Caroline Rode can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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