Since it was announced in February, plans for a new art building at Utah Valley University continue to develop. Over $15 million raised will allow the School of the Arts to move from repurposed classrooms to a building intended for the arts program.
Performing arts students say they are ready for the new building because they are currently sharing space with shop students. “The arts are unrecognizable within the school because there is nowhere for us on campus,” said Alec Powell, a junior in the program.
Administration hopes the new building will be approved by the legislature this year so construction can begin next summer. In the meantime, some students struggle to be excited for something they may not see before graduation. “It seems like they keep pushing it off and I’m wondering if I’ll ever reap the benefits,” said Spicer Carr, a theater student.
Improvement plans for the arts at UVU are separated into three parts, and phase one is already complete with four new studios. These dance spaces overtook the old racquetball courts at the dismay of some students, clearly displaying UVU’s need for expansion.
Phase two is the new building itself, which will offer much more than basic classroom space for students. Dean of the School of the Arts, K. Newell Dayley, said the professional facilities will serve a valuable purpose in helping students learn in an environment similar to what they will face after graduation.
The existing Noorda Theatre is not made to host the large performances that UVU would like to see, so the biggest addition to the new building will be the concert hall designed to seat over 700 people. This will allow room for an orchestra of music students to perform with dance and theater students.
Primarily for drama performances, an additional high-end proscenium theater that will seat 500 guests promises to be a big attraction in Orem. Previously, UVU students have resorted to performing in high school auditoriums with the capacity for large productions.
A third, smaller theater will be constructed for other dance performances. An additional bonus is that the performance spaces can all be occupied simultaneously, truly taking advantage of the full potential of the building.
With dance and drama taken care of, the fate of the visual arts students is still to be determined. Accommodating the entire art department requires compromise and as UVU is continually growing, funding is a major roadblock.
Although the new art building does not hold any specific plans for visual arts students, the university will be able to remodel the existing art space in the Gunther Technology building. As a part of phase three, it could be a while before any new developments are made for the art and design students.
The building has potential for even more specialized facilities, and architects should finish detailed plans by November. What gets approved all depends on funding.