CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 52 on Tuition Revenue Bonds. With this bill, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will receive $45 million to be put towards the construction of a new Center for the Arts.
The current Center for the Arts, built in the 1970’s, cannot keep up with the growth the School of Arts, Media, and Communication has experienced since the building opened.
“It was designed for programs one-quarter, to one-tenth the size we have now,” said Alison Frost, the chair of the Department of Theater and Dance. “Our dance program doesn’t even fit in this building, and we have a dance program that has to work out of our gym.”
Frost said when the Center for the Arts was built, there were maybe 10 theater majors at TAMUCC. Now, there are around 150.
Students such as junior theater student Harper Lee have also noticed the recent increase.
“This year, we’ve noticed a significant increase in members in our department,” Lee said. “That’s awesome, because more members means there’s more we can do, but also more members limits us, because we only have two rehearsal spaces, our black box, and our main theater.”
Lee said she has noticed the increase of people during rehearsals. Every year, junior students direct their freshman classmates in a 10-minute play. This year, there are a lot of 10-minute plays.
“This year, there are more than 30 ten-minute plays, all rehearsing at the same time, all trying to do the same thing, and all working towards the same end goal,” she said.
A new building will bring added space, which Lee hopes will allow for more opportunities.
“With that, we could do more student-directed shows, maybe add in another show," she said. "Have more 10-minutes, more 40 minutes, more main stages; just more opportunities for people to work.”
More space will also provide some much-needed distance between some of the departments.
“I had a production of Hamlet on stage in 2019, and while Hamlet has a big fight scene at the end, and he’s dying and taking his last breath, we could hear the band rehearsing ‘Sleigh Ride’ across the hall,” Frost laughed.
However, the overall hope is all the programs can continue to excel and grow in a new facility.
“We do great things in this building,” Frost said. “The School of Arts, Media, and Communication has phenomenal teachers and phenomenal programs, and our enrollment is great. We just need an environment to make what we do easier, and more productive for our students.”
The money TAMUCC is receiving thanks to Senate Bill 52 is just a portion of the money needed for a new Center for the Arts. The university will have to raise more money before construction can begin; and while the pandemic has caused construction prices to increase, university officials will now have to re-evaluate what the full cost of the facility will be.
When the new building is finished, the current Center for the Arts will be re-purposed, and used as needed.