Schrott Center to provide space for JCFA students

Shakespeare had the Globe. New York has the Met. Butler University has Clowes and the Eidson-Duckwall. Now Butler can add another  building to its résumé.

The ground breaking of the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Performing and Visual Arts will begin this spring

The 450-seat theater will be built on the East-side of Clowes. The theater will be used by Butler Theatre, Butler Ballet, Butler School of Music performances and Butler art students to display their work.

The performing arts center has been in the works since 1996, according to Vice President of Operations Mike Gardner. The center was the brainchild of former Butler University President Geoffrey Bannister, Gardner said.

The Schrott Center is the final part in a four-phase project.

The first phase of the project was the Fairbanks building that was finished in 2001. Next came the Lilly Hall addition in 2003. Following that came the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall finished in 2004.

This final part of the project is projected to be completed in the fall of 2012.

The four-phase plan has been a 15-year evolution, Gardner said. During that time, “inflation has killed [the project].”

Gardner said the design for the new performing arts center was revised between four or five times making changes and reductions as the budget amount changed such as eliminating the set shop in the new center’s plan.

The design team tried hard to keep the seating capacity and the stage size consistent, he said.

“[The Schrott] center fills the gap here of a mid-size space, which allows us a neat venue for all three departments,” Gardner said.

Gardner said his role on the project is liaison among the designers, architect firm and construction firm.

“I am sad to be leaving Butler and not seeing this project all the way through,” Gardner, who is leaving at the end of February, said.

“I will still be in the area, though, and I plan on being at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.”

Along with Gardner, Craig Hardee, senior construction project manager, has worked closely with the planning of the new center.

Hardee said he describes the planning of the Schrott Center as a collaborative effort.

“We’re all really excited,” he said.

The collaboration focus of the project provided an opportunity for coming up with solutions in the design to meet the needs of those who will be benefitting from the center, such as the JCFA students and faculty, Hardee said.

Hardee said the most challenging part of the whole project has been the timeline, dealing with all of the different changes over the years and keeping the group involved.

One of the changes Hardee spoke of was the changing of the chairs and deans in the JCFA.

“New people bring new ideas and perspectives,” Hardee said.

One of those people is JCFA Interim Dean Michelle Jarvis, who said she has been involved since 1986 when she first came to Butler and worked on the design for a mid-sized theater for the college.

“We are most excited that it’s coming into fruition,” Jarvis said. “It makes such a beautiful arts quadrant.

“It is extremely meaningful that it’s going to be here.”

Jarvis said she is currently part of the team that is making sure to bring what the JCFA needs into this new performing arts center.

“[The Schrott Center] is such a wonderful opportunity for the students to really fine-tune their craft,” she said. “It will allow them to work and experiment more and build their careers.”

Jarvis said an important part of career building for JCFA students is practicing performance and exhibition, which is what they will get from the new center.

“Getting the space to serve [all the different arts departments] has been the biggest challenge,” Jarvis said. “But I think we’re there. I think we’ve done a fine job.”

Jarvis said that she’s sure the use of the space will go beyond the JCFA, such as being a place to bring speakers and other outside acts to campus.

The next most pressing step for the campus project is finalizing the project plan, which is “99.8 percent complete,” according to Hardee. The final budget meeting will come next followed by actually getting the project underway this spring.

“I think students will find the opportunity to collaborate more among themselves [with the new Shrott Center] and build the community of artists even farther here in the Jordan College” Jarvis said. “I think that will clearly lead us to the future of the arts.”