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UW Breaks Ground on Buchanan Center for Performing Arts

May 10, 2013
Man with woman
University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan embraces his wife, Jacque, upon learning that the remodeled and expanded UW Fine Arts building will be named the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts during Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the project. (UW Photo)

Citing retiring President Tom Buchanan’s dedication to the arts in Wyoming, the University of Wyoming today (Friday) broke ground to begin construction on the new Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts.

The facility, scheduled to be completed in December 2014, will be a lasting tribute to Buchanan’s commitment, not only to the arts, but to the unprecedented growth of the campus that took place during his presidency, says Dave Bostrom, president of the UW Board of Trustees. Buchanan is retiring this year after eight years as president and a 35-year career at UW.

“President Buchanan ensured that in addition to science and technology, the environment and natural resources and the life sciences -- all of which have received much well-deserved recognition over the past decade -- the cultural assets, arts, and humanities flourished as an area of distinction for UW,” Bostrom says. “His commitment to sustaining and enhancing UW’s reputation in the arts has been seen in the financial investments he directed over the years to the programs in art, music, theatre and dance and Cultural Programs; his impassioned personal advocacy for these programs with the Wyoming Legislature and others throughout the state; and his dedication to making UW’s fine and performing arts available to all of Wyoming through vibrant outreach programs.”

In his 2012 State of the University address, Buchanan noted, “In all of their permutations, the arts make for complete living, and they are, in my view, a requirement for a rich and stimulating life.”

Such a commitment was affirmed in the university’s Academic Plan, which notes, “Already home to the richest array of cultural assets in the state, UW enjoys a reputation in these areas that would be enviable even at larger, wealthier institutions. With award-winning academic programs in the studio and performing arts, a new MFA program in creative writing, an art museum of increasing national prominence, and outstanding archives, the university has an impressive array of assets upon which to build a magnet environment for the arts.” 

The project includes about 120,000 gross square feet of renovation of portions of the existing Fine Arts building, along with about 50,000 square feet of new construction. The new space will include a 256-seat Thrust Theatre and a 100-seat Recital Hall. Other new spaces will include band/orchestra and choral rehearsal halls, and a second dance studio.

Existing space will be renovated to create light, sound and design labs; teaching and rehearsal space for musical theater; dressing and makeup rooms; and improved classrooms. The project includes vital sound isolation and acoustic work for instrumental music individual practice rooms and classrooms -- features that are necessary for Department of Music accreditation.

“It’s a passion in his own life and that of his wife Jacque, but President Buchanan was equally passionate in his efforts to make certain that the performing arts have the space, configuration and amenities necessary so that academic instruction, student performance and public enjoyment can thrive for years to come,” Bostrom adds.

The project is funded by a combination of bond proceeds, a $14.2 million legislative appropriation, private donations and other funds. The university and UW Foundation are working to secure $2 million in private gifts to complete the financing package, and there is potential for additional giving to support equipment and instrument acquisition.

The Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts is the second phase of UW’s investments in the arts. The first was the $33 million, 79,000-square-foot Visual Arts Center that opened in 2012. In total, the university and the state have invested about $70 million in the two projects.

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