ETSU fine arts center approved, fundraising and design plans continue

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – It’s been 30 years in the making but ETSU leaders can finally say a new fine arts center is on its way.

The Johnson City Commission voted 3-1 Thursday to fund their nearly $10 million portion of the center.

A growing partnership that ETSU’s Chief of Staff, Jeremy Ross, believes will greatly benefit the area. The proposed plans will nearly double the available seating.

“1,200 seats allows you to attract national attention. We may use promoters or staff or third parties to attract the best talent that we can,” Ross said.

The final cost estimate of the project nears $51 million. $28 million has been approved by the state and the city of Johnson City has approved their portion. $10.2 million had to be raised privately and of that, ETSU has $2.4 million left.

All the land has been purchased, and other expenses include things like water retention and equipment.

The university is confident they can raise the additional funds.

“Over 500 entities have already committed. We’re reaching out to those individuals and those proposals that have been made and we will have a wrap up campaign,” Ross said.

Within the agreement, the city has 20 days minimum a year to use the space.

“If the facility is not in use or we don’t have classes or instruction it would be available for city functions,” Ross said.

The plan for the arts center must be approved by the State Building Commission, and

Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, Chairman of the Commission, thinks the center will be a hit.

“I think ETSU is really on the cusp of exploding. I think this is maybe not the final piece of the puzzle but a piece that makes ETSU a complete university,” Ramsey said.

ETSU President Brian Noland will present the fine arts center plan in Nashville early next month to the State Building Commission for final approval.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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