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Stage is set for alumni and friends to enjoy permanent encore in Rockefeller

The long-awaited expansion and renovation of the Michael C. Rockefeller Arts Center is now underway, and there are nearly 60 ways that Fredonia alumni and friends can play a role in its supporting cast.

As the 46-year-old facility begins its first major upgrade, dozens of spaces have been designated to recognize gifts of private support that enrich Fredonia’s highly regarded programs and expand scholarship support for the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

“Fredonia is well-known for the arts, and the expansion of arts programs — from theatre and dance to visual arts and new media — is an important statement to the public that we value, support and encourage creativity,” said June Miller-Spann, associate director of Development for the Fredonia College Foundation and liaison with the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “The arts truly enrich our lives and provide us with enjoyment and experiences that help us to grow.”

The building project, to be completed in two phases over a two-year period, includes a 40,000-square-foot addition now under construction on the west side of the building, as well as the renovation of areas in the original building that opened in 1969 as part of the I.M. Pei and Partners design of the modern Fredonia campus.

Ralph Blasting, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, said the improvements will enable Fredonia to raise the level of student learning and audience experience. Key features of the addition include:
ceramics, sculpture, foundry, and woodworking studios for the Department of Visual Arts and New Media, plus dance performance space, acting and dance studios and an expanded scene shop including a paint area for the Department of Theatre and Dance. There will also be a multipurpose classroom and a much-needed connecting corridor to Mason Hall, to protect delicate and valuable instruments and equipment from the weather. Renovated areas will house new digital design labs, drafting studios, classrooms, offices and a new Marvel Theatre entrance.

“The already strong reputation of Fredonia’s Visual and Performing Arts programs will be significantly enhanced by the capabilities offered by this much-needed addition and renovation,” said Project Shepherd Steve Rees, a faculty member who was enticed to come out of retirement to help make this dream a reality.

The naming gifts — which can carry the donor’s name or honor or memorialize someone else — provide unique opportunities for alumni to acknowledge the education they received. It’s also a chance for friends of the university to support the arts programming that serves Western New York.

The range of potential named spaces includes: sculpture and ceramics studios, computer laboratories, shooting studio, kiln room, sculpture/woodshop, printmaking studio, classrooms and faculty offices for Visual Arts and New Media; dance and acting studios, a costume shop, costume shop manager and technical production offices, a lighting and sound laboratory, computer laboratory, scene shop, design and drafting studio and faculty offices for Theatre and Dance.

Additional areas include a multipurpose and screening room, a theatre and dance teaching studio that also serves as a fully equipped, 91-seat public performance space for choreographic presentation, and promenades on first and second floors of the addition. Outdoor spaces include the RAC arcade which brings audiences from Symphony Circle to the stairs and ramps that lead to King Concert Hall, Marvel Theatre and the Marion Art Gallery and the central plaza which serves as the welcoming entryway into Harry A. King Concert Hall and connects the concert hall to Robert W. Marvel Theatre.

“The number of spaces available for naming offers a perfect opportunity for individual alumni, graduating classes and others to show their continued support for the arts at Fredonia by making a strong financial commitment,” Rees added.

Named spaces and permanent endowments created by donors will support scholarships, programs, equipment purchases and staffing needs that must be met in the face of consistently dwindling state appropriations.

The foundation has developed an information packet containing
the project description, easy-to-read diagrams identifying individual naming spaces, descriptions of how those spaces will be utilized, and lists of naming levels. Donor levels start at $5,000.

If you’d like to have a hand in molding Fredonia’s latest artistic creation — not to mention generations of future Fredonians — please visit or contact Ms. Miller-Spann at (716) 673-3321 or


posted @ Thursday, January 29, 2015 9:14 AM by Pamala Colon

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