JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Friday for the new East Tennessee State University performing arts center.
The new $53 million facility, which will include performance, instructional and teaching space, was voted to be named the James C. and Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts by ETSU’s Board of Trustees.
According to an ETSU news release, the late James C. Martin pledged $3 million toward the facility in 2013 and James Martin’s daughter, Sonia King, allocated an additional $1 million to build the facility. The Martin’s gave around $7 million to the university, which includes the 2009 gift that James Martin made in memory of his wife.
“This is a historic day for ETSU as we realize a dream that began more than a quarter-century ago,” ETSU President Brian Noland said. “It is also a day that we honor the legacy of members of the Martin family and the powerful way in which they have transformed the arts on this campus and in this region. The James C. and Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts will showcase the artistic talents of our students, faculty and staff as well as performers from across the region.”
James Martin worked as a chemist at Eastman Chemical Company. Mary Martin, a 1962 graduate of East Tennessee State College, also worked as a chemist at Eastman.
Noland added, “We are grateful to Sonia King, the late Jim Martin, the City of Johnson City and the hundreds of other donors who have partnered with us to create this world-class home for our arts programs.”
“My family has always loved the arts, and I am so proud of the impact on the university and surrounding region that has been possible through their support,” Sonia King said. “It means so much for me to be able to continue their legacy and mission and to help make arts education and performances more accessible to students and the public well into the future.”
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