This November, voters will decide the fate of Laramie County Community College’s plan to renovate its western Fine Arts building and the addition of a new performance hall.
LCCC has hired architectural firm Semple Brown to conduct a feasibility study, which will determine if the renovations are even possible based on the total cost of $14 million.
The next step in getting this project off the ground comes in November, when voters will decide if they want to pass a bond of $7 million of the total cost of $14 million.
The trustees plan to request the other $7 million of this project from the Legislature.
Plans for the renovation have already undergone considerable revisions. The original design was in a whole new location, but that proved too expensive.
“They did a lot of work to bring it closer to the existing space to save on site development and actually bring life back into the project,” said Daniel Powell, Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. “I was really grateful for their efforts to bring this project that wasn’t financially feasible and turn it into a viable project that met our needs.”
There is an open area where the college can decide to renovate the existing area or construct a brand new area.
“New construction dollars are a lot costlier than renovation dollars, so there’s that playability there of how much do we negotiate,” Powell said. “But we absolutely need a new performing space.”
The new auditorium is set to be behind what is now the public relations area. The print shop, which is the loading dock, will then be the loading dock for the new performing arts center. The gallery space and the performing arts space will have a lobby which will flow into the public relations area that will be an existing music rehearsal area.
Another part of this expansion is making the art gallery more visible.
“What I am trying to advocate for is if there is a performance or a speaker, that the gallery is very visible and accessible and has a busy lobby,” Powell said.
Other additions will be theater rehearsal space and significant improvement of ventilation for the art studios, which would allow students to use new materials.
“Right now, we can’t use oils because the ventilation is not such that they can accommodate that, so we are limited on the art medium that we can use,” Powell said.
During this planning process, some people raised the issue of declining enrollment and asked whether the extra space is needed.
“It’s not a matter of accommodating enrollment for the arts area as much as it is for having an appropriately designed space,” Powell said.
LCCC is the only college in Wyoming that doesn’t have an auditorium for performances, and the western Fine Arts building has been maintained, but hasn’t been renovated since 1981.
“I am going to try my best to tell the story to folks to say that we really, really need this,” Powell said. “This is a specific space design that has been crippling for many, many decades.”