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UWyo Magazine|September 2014 | Vol. 16, No. 1

The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of the University of Wyoming

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University of Wyoming
Dept. 3226
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: 307-766-2379
TTY: 307-766-6729
Dance students performing

Exterior rendering of new Fine Arts Building
UW Recital Hall
UW Main Stage Rendering

Performing for the Future

The new Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts will provide students with the tools to succeed.

By Micaela Myers

Dancers crowd into public restrooms to change into leotards, sets are built in hallways, copy machines and file cabinets are stuffed into dressing rooms, and classes, rehearsals and performances all share one space. All that will soon be a distant memory, as a much-needed $35 million renovation and expansion is underway, set to be complete December 2014 when the University of Wyoming unveils the new Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts.

“I think it was pretty clear that they needed an updated space,” says College of Arts and Sciences Dean Paula Lutz. “They were bursting at the seams, and their facilities were not top quality.”

Originally built in 1972, the performing arts building is one of the busiest on campus with classes, plus music, theater and dance performances, and cultural and outreach programs. Lutz expects the renovation to have a huge impact on current and incoming students. “The best students stay in state and attend the state university when they know that state-of-the-art facilities are available close to home,” she says.

The new facilities include a 256-seat thrust theater. “The effect a thrust theater has for audience members is a far more intimate feel,” says Leigh Selting, professor and chair of the UW Department of Theatre and Dance. “Overall, it’s really a dramatically different experience for students, actors, designers and the audience.”

Other key learning spaces in the 129,000-square-foot renovation and 50,000 square feet of new space will include a dance studio, a recital hall, makeup and dressing rooms, band and vocal rehearsal spaces, and studios for lighting, sound, design and recording. “Sound, technology and production work has come a long way since 1972, so we really need to be the flagship institution in this state in terms of that technology,” Selting says.

“With more practice rooms, new spacious rehearsal rooms and a new performance venue, we’ll be able to deliver quality instruction and the first-rate performance experiences that our UW students and the citizens of Wyoming deserve,” adds Steve Barnhart, professor of music.

The performing arts building also houses UW Fine Arts Outreach and Cultural Programs. “Without a doubt, visiting artists will be impressed with the new facilities and the fact that the Wyoming state government and UW have the vision to establish UW as a global center for musical artistic excellence,” Barnhart says.

UW has long been a home for top talent, and now the facilities will be up to the task. “Our reputation attracts students from all over the region, and now we can be proud of our facilities that are able to support student growth and development,” says Nicole Lamartine, associate professor of music and director of choral activities.

Pride is a key word when it comes to the renovation. “I’m proud of the campus for putting this emphasis on the arts and the state and Wyoming Legislature for being willing to help with the funding,” Lutz says. “I think it shows that the state values the arts and the place of UW in the fine arts.”

The Legislature allocated a total of $16.8 million toward the project, and the UW Foundation is working to raise $2 million in private donations, which will include naming opportunities in the new venues. UW’s bonding authority and major maintenance funding will help fund the remaining portion.

Whether students are dyeing and sewing costumes for a production, performing a graduate recital, dancing in the new studio or impressing an appreciative audience, the expanded and enhanced facilities of the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts will allow them to learn and thrive, while attracting future performers and musicians from around the world.

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