GVSU celebrates dedication of expanded performing arts center
The Grand Valley community celebrated the formal dedication of the newly renovated and expanded Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts on August 25 on the Allendale Campus.
The two-story, 47,000-square-foot, $20-million addition includes the Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre, an expanded theater costume shop, additional prop storage, new dressing rooms, two theater classrooms for costume design and fabrication, four music ensemble rooms and additional rehearsal spaces. The Haas Center also includes a classroom for students studying music education, an enlarged study space in the main lobby and multiple faculty offices.
A separate dedication of the Keller Theatre will take place in October.
The renovated center is named in honor of Grand Valley president Thomas J. Haas and his wife, Marcia, to recognize their support for the programs housed in the center, which include music, music education, theater and dance.
President Haas said that he and Marcia created an endowment for the performing arts at Grand Valley because of their deep appreciation of the arts and how their lives have been enriched by artistic endeavors and by the university.
“The arts lift us up, make us think and give us hope, and we hope others will continue to join us in being enriched by our students’ performances within these walls,” he said. “Our students are the best in this nation and they are being supported right here at Grand Valley.”
The endowment, also in their name, will provide enrichment activities for students, including competitions, talent showcases, master classes, and summer programs around the world.
President Haas followed an emotional speech by Marcia during which she expressed gratitude for the arts, Grand Valley, its students and the impact they have all had on their lives.
“Arts of all kinds benefit people of all ages, and Tom and I have a very deep appreciation for the arts and we recognize how our lives have been enriched by all of the arts," Marcia said. "Our Grand Valley family is so special and we are pleased to have this opportunity to give back.”
Danny Phipps, chair of the Music, Theatre, and Dance Department, said the center represents a commitment to offering the best in the performing arts to the university community and beyond.
"Surrounding us today is tangible evidence of deep commitment and understanding from Grand Valley's administration and donors of the essential nature of arts study to challenge our students to dream beyond the present and craft a better future," said Phipps. "Providing desperately needed production and performance space, this new facility will allow our growing programs to expand their positive impact on students."
Phipps added that Grand Valley's music program alone has grown by 46 percent in the past three years and more than 300 students participate in theater productions annually. Approximately 10,000 patrons attend performing arts events at Grand Valley each year.
Anna Petrenko, a senior majoring in music education, told the crowd that the expansion is a testament to Grand Valley's dedication to studies that impact people through dance, theater and music.
"In a nation where many arts programs are the first to be cut from a school's budget, my heart swells with pride to have Grand Valley publicly display the importance of the arts on this campus," said Petrenko.
The original center was built in 1971 and currently houses Louis Armstrong Theatre and the GVSU Art Gallery. The facility is also utilized by numerous student vocal and instrumental ensembles and the 220-member Laker Marching Band.