Gearhart Outlines Plans For New Performing Arts Center
Chancellor G. David Gearhart announced plans on Wednesday that would transform the old men’s gym and planetary science building into a state-of-the-art performing arts center.
The project will be funded in part by a $6 million dollar gift to the university from Jim and Joyce Faulkner, historically one of the university’s biggest donors.
“This will be one of the finest facilities anywhere with the best acoustics,” Gearhart said to a crowd of more than 200.
“We can’t thank the Faulkners enough,” he said, noting their support of the Razorback Marching Band, their scholarship donations and their founding of the Towers of Old Main.
Gearhart noted how the new center will help not only the university, but the entire northwest Arkansas region in a knowledge-based economy.
UA’s current theaters and performing arts structures are outmatched even by some high schools, he said.
“You cannot have a great university without a great arts program,” he said.
It will mean more visitors to Fayetteville and the UA, and will help the UA achieve its goal of being a top 50 research facility by the year 2021, he said.
The news will mean more construction for the university in order to return the building, located between the Arkansas Union and Silas Hunt Hall, to prominence. Gearhart said the building has a long history and has hosted acts like Chuck Berry and the Vienna Boys Choir in the past.
The Faulkers also spoke and shared their experiences at UA.
“Because of the education we received here, our lives are better off because of it,” Jim Faulkner said, adding that the couple’s children also attended the school.
Joyce Faulkner said that growing up in small-town Arkansas, arts were not readily available, but they took advantage of piano lessons and the school bands, anyway. She hopes this will give current young people more opportunity to get involved.
“This will help all students, all of Fayetteville and all of Arkansas,” she said.