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Morning Sun
  • Art students past and present celebrate program’s future

  • Pittsburg State University students, alumni and faculty celebrated the future of the university’s arts programs together at the ceremonial groundbreaking Friday morning.

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  • Pittsburg State University students, alumni and faculty celebrated the future of the university’s arts programs together at the ceremonial groundbreaking Friday morning.
    The moment has been 35 years in the making, since the loss of Carney Hall to deterioration in 1978.
    While there has been talk of a new center throughout that time, Cynthia Allan, chair of PSU’s Department of Communication, said it always seemed elusive.
    “Fifteen years ago, the feeling was that this would probably never happen,” she said.
    However, she said members of the current university administration have prioritized both the building and seeking ideas from those who will use it.
    “It has been a priority of this administration for years now,” Allan said. “From the very beginning, they sought input from all of us who would use the space.”
    She said the space will include a 1,100-seat performance hall that will host guest speakers, road shows and music productions, as well as a more intimate 250-seat theater for the theater department.
    Backstage areas also will be state-of-the-art, with a scene shop, costume shops, professional-grade dressing rooms, a green room and other amenities.
    Visual arts also will have a place within the facility, courtesy of an art gallery space has that has been included in the plans. Other amenities include a reception area and courtyard.
    Current students celebrated the day and what the facility will mean for the arts programs at Pittsburg State.
    Senior Halley Sageng is majoring in music education and has been involved with many arts activities, including makeup, shows, opera and choir.
    When the proposal to raise $7 million via increased student fees was brought to students, Sageng said the arts students unilaterally supported it and asked their friends to support it as well, ultimately resulting in its passage.
    Sageng said the benefits for the arts programs are worth the effort and endeavor, even though she will have graduated by the time the facility is complete.
    Junior Audra Welty performed with the PSU Choir at the groundbreaking and said she hopes to be able to enjoy the new building her final semester before she graduates in the spring of 2015.
    Both Sageng and Welty expressed hope that the Center for the Arts will help strengthen the university’s programs.
    Welty said it will be helpful not to try to schedule big events around the schedule at Memorial Hall, and Sageng said not renting space means additional funds for the program.
    Sageng said she has run into scheduling conflicts while trying to schedule her senior recital at the Sharon K Dean Recital Hall, and that the new facility will make that easier.
    “We’re all really excited,” she said. “It’s long-awaited.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Jackie Jenkins, a PSU alumna, knows just how long-awaited the Center for the Arts is. She returned to her alma mater 41 years later to celebrate a day that she said her instructors and classmates would be proud to see.
    Jenkins majored in art education and taught in Emporia, Manhattan and Shawnee Mission.
    “I got this invitation in the mail and I thought this was worth driving a couple hours for,” she said. “How wonderful for my former instructors and classmates to see this facility at the groundbreaking level.”
    Jenkins said her senior art exhibit took place in a small space in Whitesitt Hall, and she is excited for the students who will have the opportunity to fulfill their educational requirements in the new setting.
    “You’ve got a beautiful building to be proud of, and a beautiful, wonderful campus to be proud of,” Jenkins said. “An education from Pittsburg State says something.”
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