Morning Sun
  • OUR VIEW: Wander no more; Center for the Arts a big project

  • For 40 years, the Pittsburg State fine and performing arts programs have been wandering in the desert.

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  • For 40 years, the Pittsburg State fine and performing arts programs have been wandering in the desert.
    They fled Carney Hall as it crumbled in the late 1970s, with the constant promise that a new building was just around the corner. And for 40 years, every corner only held dreams instead of reality.
    Friday, Pittsburg State University held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Center for the Arts. That’s significant for two reasons.
    First, on a minor note, the Center for the Arts is capitalized. It may just be a stylistic difference, but before Friday, it was always a lower-case performing arts center or fine arts building. As much as a ceremonial groundbreaking means the talk is over and the work is starting, so does the simple switch of moving from lower-case to capital letters.
    Second, the groundbreaking signifies the wait is almost over. Much like the sight of land after an ocean voyage or a city skyline after hours of driving without sight of civilization, a groundbreaking gives hope.
    And hope has been a hard thing to muster. Think about the students who graduated from Pittsburg State in the mid 1970s. Thirty-five years have passed with words and not shovels in the ground. Thirty-five years. That’s a lifetime. Most have spent their entire working lives waiting for a new building. Some are old enough to retire.
    One of those students -- though not ready to retire -- was Pittsburg State President Steve Scott. He graduated from Pitt State in 1973. Carney Hall was condemned in 1978 and razed in 1980.
    Many presidents have talked about a new performing arts center. Scott made it happen.
    First, there was a $10 million anonymous gift for the project. Later came the $5 million donation in the name of his brother, H. Lee Scott, former Walmart President and CEO. Then the students got involved, raising student fees to contribute another $7 million to the project. Even in the later days of fundraising, when an extra couple hundred thousand dollars were needed for some of the Center for the Arts’ unique features, Scott went into a full-on fundraising blitz.
    While we’re praising Scott for his efforts, we also need to note that he couldn’t do it alone. A $30 million project does not happen by one person alone. The entire University Development staff deserves recognition. The Facilities Planning had a part to play. There are many more divisions and departments and groups and individuals who helped make the Center for the Arts more than a mirage in the distance.
    We thank all of you, because groundbreakings mean there is an end coming to the wandering. It’s the turning point, signifying that yes, this is happening.
    Several people have told us that they continue to be amazed by the scale of the Center for the Arts. We’re told it will be nearly twice as tall as the Weede Physical Education Building. Further, because the two theaters take up so much space, the building will be even larger than it may otherwise seem.
    Page 2 of 2 - But then, that’s not surprising. Reality is always better than dreams.
    — For the Morning Sun
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