Board of Trustees prioritizes building projects; Fine and Performing Arts Center gains solid ground

By Will Hebert

The Laramie County Community College Board of Trustees gave direction on the priorities of projects on the current draft of the master plan at its study session Sept. 7.

Earlier at a special business meeting Aug. 31, the trustees had decided to categorize construction and renovation projects on the proposed campus master plan by whether funding is in process or in planning. The trustees will receive a final draft of the master plan at their Sept. 21 meeting and will vote to approve it at their business meeting Oct. 19.

The original plan had projects categorized by tier one and tier two levels of priority. Projects on tier one were considered more of a priority than those on tier two.

Project priorities defined

At the Sept. 7 study session the trustees prioritized the projects with funding in process as follows:

Carol Hoglund, vice president of administration and finance, told the trustees that the original plan to move the stables north of the College Arena would be impossible. She said the Federal Emergency Management Agency would not allow this move because the area is located in a flood plain and flood way.

For the projects that need funding and/or planning, the trustees prioritized the top four to be studied immediately, after which they will reprioritize. They are follows:

The next group of projects that would require funding and/or planning would be new nontraditional student housing, a “bridge” lab classroom facility between the Arp and Career and Technical buildings, a new multipurpose athletic facility, site improvements to the loop road and landscaping and student services renovations, which would be done in conjunction with the UW outreach facility.

“I think that we ought to rank them based on a pretty quick gut feel,” vice chair of the LCCC Board of Trustees Greg Thomas said. He said he would like the trustees to rank the projects and study them to determine their need. Thomas said the trustees could then reexamine the priorities of the projects on the master plan after about six months and rank them as needed based on the results.

Location of proposed performing arts center
Location of the Fine and Performing Arts facility included in the campus master plan draft, which will be placed north of the Health Science Building, is shown. Courtesy

Performing arts facility takes center stage of board discussion

This change was originally influenced by concerns raised about the priority level of the fine and performing arts center at the Aug. 31 special meeting by members of the LCCC arts and humanities division: Rosalind Schliske, instructor of mass media/multimedia; Nancy Cornish, instructor of choral music, and Dave Gaer, instructor of theatre/communication.

Schliske said the group was there because the members felt their vision for the future was not adequately expressed in the draft of the master plan. She said previous plans had placed the construction of a fine and performing arts center as a higher priority, and the members of the arts and humanities division were disheartened to see it placed as a lower priority in the Aug. 31 draft.

Schliske apologized because she said the group had not offered input during the summer. She said the division members had thought detailed input offered for previous plans designed six years ago by Semple Brown, an architectural firm in Denver, had been taken into account when drafting the current plan but realized changes in administrative positions had prevented the input from being transferred.

“We got to talking, and we said: ‘My gosh. We’ve had three presidents, four deans and two VPs of finance since all of this. How in the world would you know what we want?’” Schliske said.

College facilities inadequate to accommodate performances

Music instructor Cornish said the music, art and theatre programs were lacking adequate space in the current fine arts building, and the music program could not accommodate performances as it would like.

She said the college could not currently host all state music activities and most large concerts had to be moved off campus.

Cornish said many musical events must be held off campus, which prevents some students from being able to attend. Cornish said college-sponsored events often had to be held off campus such as the performance of the band Moosebutter, which was held at the Atlas Theatre, and the performance of L.A. Guitar Quartet, which was held at the auditorium of South High School.

“We’d like to host our own concerts. Moosebutter was brought in, and we had to have that performance at the Atlas, and we had to turn half of the people away,” Cornish said. “It would’ve been so nice if we could’ve had them here.”

Cornish also said some performances involving LCCC’s arts programs had to be held off campus because of a lack of performance space and used the college’s performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” as an example. The LCCC Collegiate Chorale participated in the performance “Elijah” in March with a total ensemble of 110 singers and a 30-piece orchestra. The performance was held at the Central High School auditorium.

“That’s pretty embarrassing to have our community outreach programs, our Moosebutter, our L.A. Quartet, our huge performance of ‘Elijah’ not here, [but] at a high school,” Cornish said.

The architectural picture originally featured a performance center that would accommodate an audience of 850 people, which is about half of the size of the Cheyenne Civic Center, Cornish said.

Theatre and communication instructor Gaer said he is currently working on a production of the play “Suessical” because no children’s shows were scheduled anywhere else in town this year.

“So we thought as a community outreach program, it would be great for us to provide that to students,” Gaer said. He said the theatre program usually invites the local elementary schools to attend free to give the students an arts and theater experience. Gaer said many of the elementary teachers use the shows as elements of their teaching.

“We currently cannot house more than 97 students at a time, so the first time I did this, I thought, ‘Well, we can fit as many students as we can,’ and my students gave 22 shows in two weeks,” Gaer said. He added his students sometimes had to perform four shows a day, which took up their class time.

Another aspect discussed was the lack of space. Kathleen Urban, dean of arts and humanities, said the division must rent storage space to house its supplies such as theatre props. She also said the different programs sharing a close space causes distractions for each performer.

“When you live in western fine arts and you are not a singer or a musician, your life is pretty miserable,” Urban said. “You might love musicians but not six hours a day in your ear while you’re trying to grade papers. If you’re a choir trying to rehears in the space that a band or jazz ensemble rehearses in, those two spaces are not compatible, and it makes a difference to what you hear.”

Urban also said LCCC was the only college in the state without a fine and performing arts center.

Schliske presented a $600,000 study for construction of a new fine and performing arts center that had been completed during a previous campus plan. Trustee Dr. Kevin Kilty said if the previous study is equivalent to the level-1 study that was completed for the new University of Wyoming outreach center, a plan for a fine and performing arts center could be presented to the Wyoming Community College Commission. Kilty also said he thought the project would be relatively easy to fund through the community.




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