Renovations to three campus buildings will begin this summer to complete the long anticipated Performing Arts Project, totaling $25.5 million.
Miller Auditorium, West Gym and East Gym will undergo extensive renovations to benefit several of the performing arts departments on campus. According to Dr. David Skeele of the Slippery Rock Theatre Department, these renovations will allow him and his colleagues to produce larger scale productions.
“This really means a lot to everyone,” Skeele said. “Miller Auditorium is going to be an overall better space. We’re going to be able to put on more large scale productions and musicals that we haven’t been able to do in years. The University Union has served as a great space for us, but this will no doubt be an upgrade for the students in all the performing arts departments.”
The Theatre Department is set to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting starting in 2019 according to Skeele, which would coincide with the anticipated completetion date of August 2019 for each of the three buildings. Skeele said that Miller Auditorium will have an expanded lobby, seating area, and backstage area to store large set pieces that they previously could not have utilized.
“We’re just really excited to get the community involved,” Skeele said. “Miller will be situated right off Morrow Way and will be able to house far more people than ever before.”
Skeele said that renovations of Miller Auditorium have been promised for many years.The space has not been used to host a production since the spring of 2012. Vice President of Facilities, Planning, and Environmental Safety Scott Albert is excited that the renovations are taking place after several years of anticipation.
“Progress can be very difficult at times,” Albert said. “Once the contractors get here and the renovation process gets underway, it’ll start to feel real. The whole Performing Arts Project is really going to pay off for each and every department who will make use of the new facilities.”
Albert said that East and West Gym will also undergo thorough renovations this summer. The main dance studio in West Gym will be completely redone, and the locker rooms in both gyms will be converted into full-time dressing rooms. According to Albert, the pool in West Gym will also be converted into a new dance studio.
A brand new black box theatre is also set to be constructed in East Gym to be used for small scale productions. Skeele said that this new space will provide a wide range of possibilities for more innovative shows.
“We’re not always going to put together shows where we want to sell over 700 tickets,” Skeele said. “The black box theatre is a real game changer for us in terms of the unique shows we’ll be able to host there.”
The promised renovations to Miller Auditorium began before Albert was promoted to his current position five years ago. Albert said he is happy to see this extended exile of the Theatre Department come to an end.
“Whenever you can renovate a space that helps advance the curriculum of a department, it’s a win-win situation for everybody involved,” Albert said.