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Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2001

New arts center moves ahead

December 6, 2001

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As construction progresses toward perhaps a late-April opening for the new Lawrence Arts Center, Ann Evans becomes more excited, even over the little things.

Evans, art center director, was thrilled at the sight of a thermostat on one of the walls during a tour Wednesday with preschool staff members and the media.

After all, it was the first one she had seen in her almost-daily trips to the construction scene, and it is a sure sign opening day draws nearer.

Other than sometime in spring 2002, no official opening date has been set for the new $7.34 million city-owned building in the 900 block of New Hampshire Street. But Evans said she believed the building would be done in time for the arts center's annual auction in late April.

"It is just so fun to come down here because it is such a major improvement over what we have now," Evans said.

The new building will have 30,000 more square feet than the current 10,000 square foot center at the Carnegie Library building, 200 W. Ninth St. Among the major amenities:

Four times as much gallery space as the current center.

A dedicated public reception area for opening-night parties and other events.

A retail sales shop for artists to market their work.

A 300-seat, state-of-the-art auditorium compared to a 150- seat facility in the current location.

Twelve art education classrooms compared to four in the existing building.

Two dedicated preschool classrooms that will allow the 110-student program to eventually expand by about 20 children.

Preschool teachers who took the tour Wednesday were impressed. They said not having to share their classroom with other art programs will allow them to expand the preschool's teachings. But they also noticed the little things, too, like new bathrooms right next to their classrooms.

"Today we have to take the children all the way down the hall," Linda Reimond, art-based preschool director, said. "Now we won't have to make that mad dash down the hallway."

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