On Monday, June 21, at 1 p.m., on Shultz Lawn, Virginia Tech will break ground on the $89 million Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, the cornerstone project of the university's Arts Initiative.

The groundbreaking ceremony will include comments by Ruth Waalkes, Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech executive director; Aurora Martin of Arlington, Va., a Virginia Tech sophomore double majoring in music in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and chemistry in the College of Science; Ron Rordam, Blacksburg mayor; Charles W. Steger, Virginia Tech president; and Rick Boucher, U.S. Congressman.

Renderings and a model of the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech will be on display at the groundbreaking ceremony. Celebrants breaking the ground will include the speakers, as well as Minnis Ridenour, Virginia Tech senior fellow for resource development; Mark McNamee, senior vice president and provost; Betsy Flanagan, vice president for development and university relations; Jack Davis, College of Architecture and Urban Studies dean; and Sue Ott Rowlands, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Attendees will be invited to enjoy a self-guided tour of art galleries and other arts venues around campus and throughout downtown Blacksburg after the groundbreaking ceremony, and then reconvene for the first Viva Virginia event, a masterclass with three-time Grammy winning baritone Sherrill Milnes. Milnes will discuss moving on stage, connecting with the audience, and auditioning.

Tickets for the masterclass are $5 for adults and $3 for Virginia Tech students and children under 18 at the door. The masterclass begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Salon of Squires Student Center.

A door prize of two Viva Virginia tickets to either The Magical Journey of Mozart on Saturday, July 3, at 8 p.m., or Opera, Italian Style on Saturday, June 26, at 8 p.m., will be awarded at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Scheduled to open in 2013 at the corner of Main Street and Alumni Boulevard in Blacksburg, the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech will house

  • A 1,260-seat, state-of-the-art performance hall for music, theatre, and dance performances;
  • Visual arts galleries for traditional, digital, and new media exhibitions; and
  • Creative technology laboratory spaces for the Center for Creative Technologies in the Arts, which will provide an applied research environment for faculty, artists, and educators and will serve pre-kindergarten through 12th grade (PK-12) education by engaging teachers and other school personnel in the development of models and programs through the integration of the arts and technology to enhance the development of critical thinking skills and the teaching of math, science, social studies, and language arts in PK-12.

The Arts Initiative instigated the Center for the Arts to fulfill the university's commitment to enhance the presences and practice of the arts on the Virginia Tech campus and in the communities the university serves. The Center for the Arts will provide a place where people can come from down the street or across the commonwealth to enjoy traditional and innovative visual art exhibitions, performances in an acoustically superior venue, and opportunities to engage the arts and technology in our children's classrooms.

An Arts Policy Board, an outgrowth of the Arts Initiative, is overseeing the university's strategic plan for the arts. Chaired by Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee, the board provides recommendations and collaborative guidance for policy-level decisions regarding the Center for the Arts, the Center for Creative Technologies in the Arts, and the master plan for the arts programs and facilities on campus. The board members are:

  • Truman Capone, director, School of Visual Arts;
  • Jack Davis, dean, College of Architecture and Urban Studies;
  • Susan G. Magliaro, director, School of Education;
  • Mark McNamee, senior vice president and provost;
  • Patricia Raun, director, School of Performing Arts and Cinema;
  • Minnis E. Ridenour, senior fellow for resource development;
  • Sue Ott Rowlands, dean, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences;
  • M. Dwight Shelton Jr., vice president for finance and chief financial officer;
  • Edward F. D. Spencer, vice president for student affairs;
  • Julie Walters Steele, director of University Unions; and
  • Ruth Waalkes (ex officio), executive director, Center for the Arts.
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