ISU Needs State Funds to Renovate Aging College of Fine Arts Complex

NORMAL — For the past two years, Illinois State University has been waiting for the state to release all or part of the $54.3 million that was appropriated for the renovation of its College of Fine Arts Complex.

The state first appropriated money for the project in fiscal year 2010 and it has been appropriated again each year since, but the money has never been released. The project is one of numerous capital projects in the state that have been held up because state officials have elected to spend the appropriated money on other things.

“It was appropriated in 2010 and we’ve been talking about it for a couple of years before then, so it’s been in the works for quite a while,” said ISU Spokesman Jay Groves. “We would’ve liked to have seen it completed quite some time ago, but we are tied to the state timeline, so we will have to go with that.”
Based on the discussions that ISU President Al Bowman has had with state officials, Groves believes a portion of the appropriated funds will soon be released to the university.
“President Bowman has been in constant contact with the Governor’s Office and he feels that we will be hearing something soon on at least the planning portion of the money — not all the money at once, but enough to get the project started with the architectural drawings and other planning,” said Groves.
ISU capital projects involving primarily classroom/instructional areas generally are financed by state government.
“For instructional facilities, we usually rely on capital funds from the state,” said Groves. “We do some remodeling with local funds that we have for smaller projects like roof replacements or classroom enhancements and things like that.
“Bigger projects like — for example — the Cardinal Court project was privately funded, so that didn’t require university resources at all. The Hancock (Stadium renovation) funding is coming from existing student fees for the most part, plus some private fundraising.”
“It would be a little difficult” to finance the renovation of the Fine Arts Complex with private funds because it is a $54 million project, said Groves.
The last time ISU received a significant amount of capital funds from the state was in 2002.
“The last capital project that received significant funding was released under Governor Blagojevich and that was for the remodeling of Schrader Hall and for the life and safety improvements at Stevenson and Turner halls,” said Groves.
The $54.3 million project will involve the demolition of the Center for Visual Arts and Centennial West, and a significant remodeling of Centennial East.
“It’s (project) a whole remodeling of the Fine Arts Complex,” said Grove. “It’s new, updated Fine Arts facilities.”
The current Fine Arts Complex, located at the corner of Beaufort and School streets in Normal, has aging facilities, inadequate space and poor ventilation, said Bowman.
According to the ISU Capital Projects Status Report that was published Sept. 24, 2012, the $54.3 million that the state appropriated in 2010 will not cover all of the costs needed for the Fine Arts Complex renovation, as originally estimated. An additional $25 million in funding may be needed to complete the project.
The architectural designs and drawings that will be created once appropriated state funds are released will determine if more funds will be needed for the project. If the cost increases, the state might appropriate additional money or the university might have to scale back or redesign the project, said Groves.
“That ($54.3 million) was the cost when it was originally appropriated,” said Groves.
The College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University is home to the Schools of Art, Music, Theatre and the interdisciplinary program in Arts Technology.