From the undulating landscape of eastern Ohio's Tuscarawas County, known to locals as the “Tuscarawas Valley,” a facility soon will rise that is as enticing as the performances it will stage. Its glass and metal facade will curve around brick and stone volumes to complement the community's historic architecture, and stimulate the development of Kent State University Tuscarawas in New Philadelphia, Ohio. But the 50,000-square-foot performing-arts center will bring much more than entertainment. “As a world-class venue, the performing- arts center will promote the economic vitality of the entire region,” says Gregory Andrews, dean. “It will also enrich our music, theater and dance programs.”

The Kent State Tuscarawas story exemplifies a performing-arts center's potential to culturally and financially invigorate a community and campus. Performing-arts centers can provide benefits at the high school and collegiate levels, and administrators can take steps now to get the show started.

A profitable centerpiece

When a new performing-arts center comes to town, local businesses profit. Events and performances draw visitors to the community.

The community performing-arts center also can prompt the cultural enrichment of a region. The play that the high school English class studies becomes much more influential when the class attends a performance at the nearby college. Families have the opportunity to enjoy the theatergoing experience together.

Additionally, a performing-arts center offers opportunities for shared use. A college or university can open up its theater to K-12 school districts and community cultural organizations. Nearby businesses have more opportunities to attend or host conferences, and entertain clients. Similarly, a high school may share its performing-arts center with community organizations.

A flexible economic engine

Ideally, a performing-arts center will play many roles: entertainment venue, gathering space, resource for working professionals and learning hub. As a revenue generator, the facility should be booked as much as possible. Flexibility, combined with a smart design, will enable the facility to have a strong economic impact.

Besides the financial benefits, a performing-arts center can enhance the fine-arts curriculum, especially in terms of production. Students can use a performance auditorium to get hands-on experience with catwalks, lighting, sets and audiovisual technology.

Performing-arts centers also can contribute to an expansion of programs in music, theater and dance. Lecturers and professional productions provide students more educational opportunities. And, a performing-arts center's design quality may help a student decide to attend a particular college.