Oklahoma City Community College Opens Long-awaited Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater
Oklahoma City Community College Opens Long-awaited Visual and Performing Arts Center TheaterMember Contribution, Oklahoma City Community College
An ambitious plan to invest heavily in the arts that began in 2007 was realized this year at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC). The plan called for the construction of a performing arts center that would include classroom space and a 1,000+ seat theater. The doors finally opened on the 1,049 seat OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater—fittingly on Valentine’s Day, 2014.
The sold out grand opening event featured a performance by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and renowned pianist Valery Kuleshov. The Philharmonic, under the direction of Joel Levine, performed several pieces that included Tchaikovsky’s “Fantasy Overture” and Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30” accompanied by Kuleshov.
The evening marked not only a significant accomplishment for the college, but also the underlying effect on students. “Involvement in the arts may be just what we need to be more successful as students, as a community, or as a nation,” said OCCC President Paul Sechrist.
President Sechrist currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the College Board.
“The value of the arts in education, regardless of a student’s area of interest, has a significant impact,” Sechrist said. “Students who participate in the arts are also far more likely to excel in science and mathematics. Low-income students who participate in the arts are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college. College students of all majors are more likely to continue through graduation if they also sing in a choir, act in a play, or join the jazz band.”
OCCC students agreed and have supported the project from the beginning. In 2006, students in the Leadership Council financially led the way for the theater by supporting an additional fee that provided $8 million dollars in bond funding for the theater project.
As students covered half of the estimated cost of the theater, gifts of $1 million dollars from the Sarkeys Foundation and $500,000 from the Inasmuch Foundation initiated a community fundraising campaign. Another two million dollars in donations from foundations, corporations and individuals, combined with OCCC capital improvement funds, set the stage for construction.
The state-of-the-art facility was constructed in two phases. The college first completed the instruction side, which included rehearsal space, classrooms, library, studios and a variety of labs.
Next was the theater, and after four years in construction, the Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater features state-of-art-equipment in a multipurpose hall that can accommodate any type of performance. Outside the performance hall, the atrium can accommodate 360 guests for pre-event receptions.
Also included in the facility is the Inasmuch Foundation Art Gallery. The gallery opened with the art of former NBA basketball player and artist Desmond Mason.
“I am very honored to open this beautiful gallery. It is always a little nerve-wracking for me to put some of my personal pieces on public display, but the way they look in this space is incredible.” Mason said.
“This is one of the nicest galleries I’ve ever seen.”
“As a leader of arts programming in Oklahoma City, OCCC values the opportunity to bring in art shows, musical and theatrical productions, surround-sound film screenings, and other live performances to the area, which has until now lacked a venue of similar size and capacity,” President Sechrist concluded.
For more information about the OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater, or for information about the 2014-15 Performing Arts Series lineup, please call (405) 682-7295, or visit www.occc.edu.