January 20, 2004
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- The Michigan economy will slow the curtains rising in Lake Superior State University’s new fine and performing arts center. The center will open no earlier than summer 2005 rather than this fall.
The decision was proposed by the University's senior administration and unanimously approved by the fine and performing arts center steering committee.
“The challenges of the last 18 months have precluded our ability to plan for the necessary academic programming and appropriate special events,” explained Betty J. Youngblood Ph.D., LSSU president. “We have been addressing a very fluid budget situation. We continue to do so. While we have arrived at many workable solutions, the need to focus on budgetary issues has limited the time available to prepare for the opening of this beautiful new facility.”
Economic constraints certainly played a role in the decision to delay the opening. LSSU has sustained four reductions in state appropriations in the past 12 months. The state's hazy budget horizon, and what that could mean for additional reductions at Lake State, made the decision relatively easy.
“We will never compromise the high quality of the educational experience available at Lake State. We owe it to our students, faculty, staff, donors and friends to do this properly. Waiting to open the arts center is the right thing to do,” said Youngblood.
University officials emphasize that the building will eventually open and that its purpose will focus on the arts.
“A review of program and staffing needs for the arts and the building is continuing,” according to Bruce Harger Ph.D., LSSU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We want to make the right decisions for the right reasons in all cases. Certainly, this is true in regards to the arts center. We lost valuable time dealing with the state’s budget crisis. The additional time gained by deferring the opening will help us catch up.”
Harger answered rumors that the complex may be used for other academic programs or university services.
“We may offer classes from across the curriculum in the building. We have an obligation to our students to provide the best classroom space available. However, first and foremost, this facility will serve as a social, cultural and educational focal point for the arts. The importance of the programs, performances and exhibits that will be offered to our students and the people of the Eastern Upper Peninsula and the Algoma district cannot be overestimated.”
Construction continues on schedule. The $15.3 million building will house the fine and performing arts offerings at LSSU. It contains a 720-seat theatre, classrooms, music, dance and visual art studios, as well as office space for faculty and staff. –LSSU-