The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Study to figure needs, cost for proposed NE performing arts center

By Mario Montalvo/ne news editor

The much-talked-about NE performing arts center may still have a long way to go before becoming a reality.

First conceived 13 years ago, the center would be part of Home Town in North Richland Hills, a mixed-use urban center, which currently includes a new library and a recreation center scheduled to open in April.

NE Campus President Larry Darlage has been on board with the project since its beginning.

“The city of North Richland Hills first approached me about 13 years ago that they would like to build a library, a rec center and a performing arts center, but they would like the performing arts center to be ours,” he said.

A feasibility study is scheduled to begin this semester and will continue through next semester to determine how much need there is for the center and what kind of amenities it would need to include.

“There’s been a lot of media flying around about it,” said Margaret Lutton, manager of strategic project development. “We’re still in very preliminary stages with this building.”

A third party would conduct the study, and an architecture firm would help to “hash out the wants versus the needs of the space,” she said.

“We’ll probably come out with a pretty good cost estimate for the building and a pretty good understanding of what spaces are going to go in the building,” Lutton said. “And we’ll be able to actually bring that back to the community and back to our board members next summer when they’re looking at the next year’s budget.”

NE assistant professor of speech Lisa Benedetti doesn’t need to see the numbers to know that the center is long overdue.

“There’s a college need in terms of instructional space as well as a community need because we get a lot of requests for use of our theater,” she said.

Since its introduction in 2005, the NE dance program has seen a 658 percent increase in enrollment, yet there is no dedicated dance space. The dance program currently shares classrooms with the health and physical education department, which is also expanding, Benedetti said. Art and music enrollment are also on the rise.

NE currently has no designated gallery space. Center Corner and College Hall are sometimes used to display artwork, but that can be problematic when those spaces are used for something else.

“There are some art pieces that people find not to be to their liking, so if you have a meeting in that room, they’re exposed to something they wouldn’t want to be exposed to maybe,” Darlage said.

Ideally, the performing arts center would include a 1,000-seat theater for larger performances, an art gallery, a black-box theater, instructional space, office space and a dance studio.

“The feasibility study would be to kind of put all of that together and then come up with some reasonable estimates to see how much it would cost,” Darlage said.

Upon completion of the study, the data would be compiled and presented to the board, who would vote on whether to move on to the design phase, which could take another year. Currently, there is no target date for the performing arts center.

“We’ve been waiting 13 years so what’s another two or three years?” Darlage said.


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