Governor J.B. Pritzker was on the campus of Western Illinois University in Macomb on Friday to announce a $119 million investment for the construction of a Center for Performing Arts.
The funding for the project is coming from the Rebuild Illinois program.
Pritzker says the school has been waiting nearly 50 years for the state to fund a new facility for the WIU College of Fine Arts and Communication: “This new facility will serve not only as a hub for the College of Fine Arts and Communications but also as a cultural and performing arts destination for the campus community, for the City of Macomb, and for the entire Western Illinois region. When it’s completed, this 100,000-square foot building will boast an 850-seat Proscenium Theatre that will provide state-of-the-art performance space for music, theatre, and dance productions, as well as regional and national touring performances. The smaller Black Box Theatre will provide a more intimate space for campus productions. It will offer classrooms and offices, practice rooms, studios, and significant performance space to support the interdisciplinary efforts of Western Illinois University students.”
State Representative Norine Hammond says the new building was a long time in the making: “It will provide not only a top-notch performance space for music, theatre and the arts, but it will also serve as an economic engine for our region, bringing touring groups and patrons of the arts to Macomb. This project has been a long time coming and I am thrilled that it is finally coming to fruition. I am excited to be here today for the groundbreaking of this outstanding new facility and I want to thank everyone who has put so much time and effort into seeing this Center become a reality.”
State Senator Jil Tracy echoed Hammond’s remarks for the long-time need for the facility: “This massive project has been a long time coming, and it reflects the efforts of a number of government officials, local leaders and private citizens. And it will be worth the wait. The new state-of-the art facilities will enhance performing arts education programs and studies in all academic disciplines, as well as boost entertainment and educational opportunities for the residents of west central Illinois and beyond.”
It’s the first state funded building to come to the campus since 1974.
The Capital Development Board (CDB) will oversee the project’s design and construction in accordance with the protocol for state-appropriated projects. Pritzker says the new facility will go along with nearly $26 million in deferred maintenance that has been earmarked to come to WIU within the year.
Construction on the new facility is expected to begin within the next 2 1/2 months.