Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $60 million capital investment to complete the Center for Performing Arts at Western Illinois University (WIU) in Macomb. Bids will be opened in late summer with construction work scheduled to start in early 2015. The project is one of the largest in the Governor's Illinois Jobs Now! program and will support hundreds of local jobs. Today's announcement is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois' economy forward.
"The Center for Performing Arts will increase Western's educational offerings and provide Macomb with a state-of-the-art music, dance and theater production facility," Governor Quinn said. "This is an investment in the school's future, and the hundreds of construction jobs it will create is an investment in the region's economy."
"We are elated that Governor Quinn has made this investment to build The Center for Performing Arts in Macomb," WIU President Jack Thomas said. "We are excited about beginning construction on this new facility that will benefit our students, faculty and staff, as well as the region. We want to thank President Emeritus Al Goldfarb who worked tirelessly in obtaining the funding for this project prior to his retirement. We also want to thank our local and regional legislators, businesses, alumni, friends, donors, the General Assembly and the Governor for their continued support."
Governor Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! program has already funded the $12 million design process for the $71.8 million facility. The $60 million announced today will cover construction costs. The architect is Cannon Design of Chicago. The construction project is being managed by the Illinois Capital Development Board (CDB) and should be complete by early 2017.
"The Center for Performing Arts project will create hundreds of construction jobs over two and a half years, and we look forward to working with the skilled trades people that will make this marvelous facility a reality," CDB Director Jim Underwood said.
The Center for Performing Arts is a 130,000-square-foot, two-story facility that will be located at the southwestern corner of campus along Western Avenue. The Center will support the academic mission and programs in the College of Fine Arts and Communication, and will include a 1,400-seat theatre auditorium with two balconies, a 250-seat stage and a 150-seat studio theatre. There also will be dance, jazz and theatre rehearsal studios to facilitate the academic mission of the building, which bolsters numerous academic programs; dressing rooms adjacent to the theatres; a scenery/design workshop and a costume shop; a box office; administration offices; and a loading dock that will accommodate semis and buses for professional touring companies and orchestras. A Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Silver certification will be sought for the project, highlighting its energy efficient and environmentally friendly design.
"It was truly a personal honor to serve as a lead sponsor and as a lead negotiator of the 2009 capital bill that appropriated the funding for this long-awaited project," State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) said. "The Center for Performing Arts will not only create short-term construction jobs, it will also further solidify WIU's role as a cultural center for western Illinois and serve as an economic development engine."
"This is a great day for Macomb and Western Illinois University. Lobbying for The Center for Performing Arts has been a true community-university effort, and further demonstrates the collaboration that is essential between a town and a university," Macomb Mayor Mike Inman said. "I'd like to thank everyone for coming together to rally for this center, especially those individual benefactors that are joining us here today."
To view architect's renderings of the Performing Arts Center, visit wiu.edu/university_planning/masterplanpac.php.
While at WIU, the Governor also discussed his plan to double the state's investment in the Monetary Award Program (MAP) -- which provides college scholarships to qualified students in financial need -- over the next five years. In the first year alone, Governor Quinn's plan will provide 21,000 more students with an opportunity to attend college that would not otherwise be available. Nearly 30 percent of WIU's approximately 10,500 students rely on MAP Grants to afford their education.