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Springfield arts center seeks state money for upgrades

20-year-old Clark State building a key for downtown’s rebirth, leaders say.

Clark State Community College has asked for $500,000 in state capital money for upgrades to its 20-year-old Performing Arts Center, which local leaders say has been a critical piece in downtown’s rebirth.

The $750,000 project includes a new roof and upgrades to the heating and air conditioning, plus security systems to the building, which has seen more than 1.5 million patrons during the last 20 years.

“There a number of things that need to be done to make sure we maintain it as a state-of-the-art facility,” said Kristin Culp, the vice president of advancement at Clark State.

The request was made as part of the Dayton Development Coalition’s list of capital projects for the state capital bill. The coalition saw more than 100 applications and submitted 36 for approval, worth approximately $31 million.

Clark State’s request ranked 20th on the list, which included three other Springfield-based projects, such as a unmanned aerial systems hangar at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

The college has also received letters of support from the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Arts Presenters Network, Springfield Symphony Orchestra and the Springfield Arts Council.

If the funding is approved, Culp said construction could begin sometime late next year. The immediate need is a new roof, which will be replaced in the near future regardless of state funding.

“It’s got an estimated life of 20 years, and here we are,” Culp said.

The building was constructed in 1993 for $15.2 million, including an $8 million capital campaign and $6 million in state funding. The center hosts a variety of events at both the 1,500-seat Kuss Auditorium, the 200-seat Turner Studio Theatre.

The Performing Arts Center’s annual budget is $2 million, which is supported through ticket sales, facility rentals, grants, sponsorships and private dollars.

Culp said the building has become an important part of the community and must be maintained for future generations.

“It’s been critical to the rebirth of downtown Springfield,” Culp said.

City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said Clark State’s made a major investment into Springfield’s downtown and are being “good stewards” of their building by submitting the request.

“We tend to get caught up in recent additions, and we forget how new the Performing Arts Center still is to our downtown,” Bodenmiller said. “It was one of the original anchors for the renovation that we’re seeing. I’m very supportive of what they’re trying to do here.”

The PAC has become “the heart” of the performing arts in Clark, Champaign, Logan and Greene counties, according to the application. Audience zip codes, license plates and credit card orders show patrons are traveling from all corners of Ohio and from neighboring states.

The economic impact of the building is immense, Culp said.

“When people come here for a performance, they also purchase meals, lodging and other peripheral services,” Culp said.

The PAC also serves six local arts groups, including the Frontiers, Ohio Lyric Theatre, Springfield Arts Council, Springfield Civic Theatre, Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Wittenberg University. The center is home to the college’s theatre program and Project Jericho.

The PAC added the $5.6 million, 27,000-square-foot Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center in 2011, which also included $1.7 million in state funding. The Grand Hall can accommodate up to 500 people for conferences, meetings or performances, while it also has classrooms, labs and an art studio.

Hollenbeck Bayley’s construction, Culp said, was a testament to the Performing Arts Center’s success.

“We simply needed more space,” Culp said.

Bodenmiller said the arts center and the conference center are big economic and tourism drivers downtown.

“It helps keep the hotels going strong,” Bodenmiller said.

Clark State serves approximately 5,000 students in its four-county service area, including 1,365 students at its Greene Center in Beavercreek.

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