SKyPAC board to start capital campaign

Shawntaye Hopkins

Another step has been taken.

In an effort to fund the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, the SKyPAC board voted on April 17 to establish a capital campaign to raise money from private developers.

Planning for SKyPAC began in January 2001, said Rick McCue, chairman of the SKyPAC board. The center will create another venue for visual and performing arts to be used by Western and the community.

The campaign has not formally begun. The board is meeting with a fund-raising consultant to work out the details of the campaign.

The board still has $4.5 million of $6.75 million from the Kentucky General Assembly available for the project, which has been used primarily for land acquisition, McCue said.

But the project will cost about $45 to $50 million. McCue said the funding will come from state and federal funding and private donations.

He said he hopes construction can begin in less than two years.

The center will be built across from the Kentucky Building, McCue said. The SKyPAC parking lots are located between Kentucky, Adams and 14th streets.

John Osborne, associate vice president for Facilities and Campus Services, said it is possible Western could lose 700 parking spaces from the gravel lots while the building is under construction.

Osborne said, after SKyPAC’s completion, there will be 350 spaces that Western can share with SKyPAC.

Campus police Capt. Charles Wallace said the majority of parking in the gravel lots is used by commuters and zone B permit holders.

He said there have been no decisions made about parking alternatives for students during construction or about who will be permitted to park in the SKyPAC lot after its completion.

“The only agreement that has been reached is that we will establish a mutual agreement for shared use of the parking after the building is complete,” Wallace said.

Jim Bohannon III, treasurer of the SKyPAC board, said student parking will be similar to the situation at Diddle Arena. He said students could be asked to move for large performances in the evening, but such performances will be scarce.

But even if SKyPAC has a negative effect on parking, many believe the center will be beneficial to Western.

McCue said, because SKyPAC will be a new, state-of-the-art facility, Western may choose to have performances there as opposed to Van Meter Auditorium.

“As nice as Van Meter is, it is awfully old,” he said.

David Lee, dean of Potter College and Western’s representative on the SKyPAC board, said in comparison to Van Meter, SKyPAC will have some edges. He said it will be more handicap accessible and parking at the new facility will be easier than finding a spot on the Hill.

“SKyPAC is going to have parking in close proximity to the building,” Lee said.

James Chalmers, art department head, looks forward to SKyPAC’s completion. He said the art department will take advantage of the exhibition space, as well as the classroom and studio space.

But Scott Stroot, theatre and dance department head, said his department may not get much use out of the center.

“I think it’s a good project,” he said. “We are looking forward to it. But people shouldn’t assume that we are automatically going to start using it.”

Stroot said the facility is expensive to use and there are no shops to build sets for a show. He said the department would have to build sets on campus, then take them to SKyPAC. He said touring a show to SKyPAC is no different than touring a show to Louisville or Lexington, except for the shorter distance.

Stroot also said the department would generally not attract enough people to fill the large auditorium expected at SKyPAC. The center is expected to seat between 12,000 and 18,000 people.

Lee believes SKyPAC will make Western students who use the center feel like they are not just a part of Western but are also a part of Bowling Green.

“It will bring students and members of the community closer together,” he said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]