A! Magazine for the Arts

ETSU launches New Arts Initiative

February 18, 2013

JOHNSON CITY, TN - Plans for the construction of a new arts center as well as an expansion of all arts programs across campus are part of a major arts initiative announced by East Tennessee State University officials.

According to ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland, a major goal of the initiative will be to raise $9.5 million that will be used as matching funds for the construction of a new arts center for the university. In his proposed 2013-14 budget, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has recommended approval for ETSU to use $1.5 million to begin planning for the arts center, which is projected to cost approximately $38 million. ETSU will be required to fund 25 percent of that project.

"Our goal is to raise $9.5 million in matching funds during the next 16 months with hopes that the remaining dollars for the arts center will be included in the state's 2014-15 budget," Noland said. "The need for an arts center has been a recurring theme throughout our 125 visioning process as we have been discussing where we want to be as an institution in the next five, 10 and 25 years. It has been a dream of this campus and this region for more than a quarter of a century, and I am honored that we now have the opportunity to move these plans forward.

"The arts initiative is ETSU's number one priority," said Noland, who announced that ETSU President Emeritus Dr. Paul Stanton will chair the arts initiative campaign.

That $9.5 million fundraising goal received a strong boost during the news conference when Noland reported that ETSU benefactor James C. Martin will provide the lead gift of $3 million for the new center. A $1 million gift from Martin to ETSU in 2009 led the way for the establishment of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, named in memory of Martin's late wife, Mary.

Martin has continued to provide substantial financial support for the school, and this lead gift will bring his total giving to $7 million.

"Jim Martin is a true champion for the arts and a true champion for ETSU," Noland said. "The Martins' legacy has transformed the arts in an unprecedented way, and we again are grateful for this continued generosity."

The existing ETSU master plan calls for the proposed arts center to be built on campus, but the university is considering possible locations adjacent to campus. The facility will include a 1,400-seat concert hall, a 500-seat theatre, a 250-seat recital hall and a gallery space.

Noland added that while the $9.5 million fundraising goal for the facility is an immediate priority, the new arts initiative encompasses a number of other plans that were developed during the Committee for 125 process that will help define ETSU's presence in the arts when the institution turns 125 years old in the year 2036. These plans include an expansion of arts programs, such as dance and strings; a renovation of current facilities; and an increase in scholarship and graduate assistantship support.