A constellation of performing arts events are surrounding a public ceremony at Butler University on Feb. 21 at 4:30 p.m. to celebrate completion of the first of four stages of a state-of-the-art complex designed to serve the general public along with students.
Artists rendering, Courtyard Building and Lilly Hall
The new 47,000-square-foot, three-story Courtyard Building rises elegantly along the east side of Lilly Hall. Following the ribbon cutting, the public is invited to tour music, dance and theater rehearsal halls and performance studios, glass-walled "gathering spaces" and a 21st century electronic music laboratory - all custom built for both collegiate programs and the half-dozen community arts organizations whose offices sprawl throughout the lower level. Visitors will hear BU President Bobby Fong say, "Butler"s decision to forge ahead with this project reflects a deep-seeded belief in the arts, in our university and in the Central Indiana community. The Performing Arts Complex will meet Butler"s programmatic needs, but it also has been designed to better serve the community in which we all live." During a preview tour, Jordan College of Fine Arts Dean Peter Alexander praised contractor Shiel Sexton. "All this has been accomplished during 15 months from ground breaking to completion." "We want everyone to feel welcome to come on Feb. 21," Alexander continued. "The building itself is a tremendous orientation to community participation. Through collaborative design, it"s a complex that invites the process of making art, theater, dance and choral and instrumental music." Guests also will hear about the capital campaign, guided by Steven Stolen, to fulfill additional phases of the performing arts complex, including remaking Robertson Hall"s chapel into a 125-seat recital hall, building a new performance hall behind Clowes Memorial Hall and, finally, a major renovation of Lilly Hall. Expansion beyond buildings Bold projects are being introduced to intertwine arts, education and community, which include affordable and free public performances in dance, music and theater, WTBU-Channel 69, Jordan Academy of Dance, student interns serving arts and cultural organizations area-wide, and partnering with Clowes Memorial Hall to connect classrooms with touring companies. "With arts collaborators, JCFA is moving arts into everyday life," Alexander stated. "The Center for Fusion of Arts in Education has two major thrusts, each with several innovative components." The Leadership Through the Arts Forum is bringing speakers with national reputations for innovation to campus to connect with students and the public. Leon Botstein, president of Bard College in New York and music director of the American Symphony Orchestra, led the first forum, "The Role of Artists and Institutions in Community Leadership." Mitchell Korn, known for developing arts education partnerships, including the Indianapolis Symphony"s Community Conservatory, addressed "Re-Envisioning the Arts Through Re-Envisioning Arts Education." Supported in part through a grant from the Indianapolis Foundation/Central Indiana Foundation, public programs will continue "to inspire dialogue and heighten collaboration and communitarian spirit," Alexander adds. Butler Community Arts School began in September with "high quality, affordable instruction in music, theater, dance and telecommunications arts" open to everyone in the larger community and taught by BU students majoring in these areas. "The program is blossoming in ways we could not have predicted," reports Karen Thickstun, director of Butler Community Arts School. She cites partnerships with Martin Luther King Center"s Best Buy Music Zone; with Indianapolis Public School 70 (Nicholson Performing Arts Magnet) called "P"zazz & Jazz for Boys" taught by two BU male dancers; with Franklin Township; and with Big Sisters/Big Brothers for a one-day Percussion Festival on March 29. "We are getting any number of phone calls to explore all kinds of possibilities," Thickstun says. For more information about Butler Community Arts School contact Karen Thickstun at 940-5500 or BCAS @butler.edu. Call 940-6444 for Butler Ballet tickets; 940-9659 for Butler Theatre tickets.