The popularity of the fine arts is growing rapidly among our faculty, students, and community. Significant numbers of students enroll in fine arts courses, and still more are choosing to participate in studio arts, theater activities, and musical performance groups. Even as we have added fine arts professors to the faculty and courses to the curriculum, we have been unable to expand our facilities to meet the demand. The situation is particularly acute in Johns Auditorium, whose use has increased exponentially each year.
As a venue for events, Johns Auditorium seats about 400, but is not handicapped accessible. There are no bathroom facilities for event participants, and the restrooms for audience are difficult to reach. As the center for the Drama Department's activities, Johns is woefully inadequate. There are no facilities in which to build sets; all sets and scenery currently must be built on the stage itself, and this must be coordinated with rehearsals and other activities - it is both unsafe and inconvenient for students. Storage space is non-existent: costumes, props, and all other materials necessary for productions are now stored in two trailers on the west end of the Auditorium. There is no "green room" or pre-stage area, so participants must enter directly on to the stage. No properties room exists. The dressing rooms are in the basement and cramped for space. There is no classroom for instruction. The building also houses, in the basement, the John Brooks Fuqua Computing Center, also running out of space and accessed only by external stairwells.We have begun the expansion and renovation of Johns Auditorium with a portion of the proceeds from a small bond issue. It will include flexible audience and production space; easily accessible restrooms; seating for an audience of 300; a "black box" theater that will double as a green room; set-building, properties, classroom, dressing, and storage areas; and an expanded Computing Center with ground-level entry and handicapped access. The project, to be completed in January 2005, requires a total expenditure of $2.25 million, a figure that includes additions to the north and west wings and internal renovations.