Cover photo: A rendering of Goppert Performing Arts Center which will be complete by Fall 2020.

Avila expands Goppert Performing Arts Center

By Kathy Feist

Avila University celebrated a major milestone May 14th  by breaking ground on the $7 million renovation and expansion of the Goppert Performing Arts Center on its South Kansas City campus.

Straub Construction, the project’s general contractor, began work in early April in advance of the 14-month project. The additional space will house increased rehearsal space, an expanded 200-seat black box theatre and a new stage shop for stage design production.

An official groundbreaking took place May 14. Photo courtesy Avila University.

“The new performing arts center will allow Avila performing arts to take our programming to the next level,” said Charlene Gould, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences and professor of theatre.

In addition to theatre performances, the new facilities will provide resources for the other programs in Avila’s school of performing arts, including voice performance, collaborative piano and others.

“Singers, actors and instrumentalists will benefit significantly from this construction project,” said Amity Bryson, DMA, music department chair and professor of music. “I am thrilled to see a great deal of planning, hard work and donor support become a reality.”

“The addition becomes a new front face for our campus,” said University spokesman Darren Roubinek. He says the circle drive on the north side of the theater will be eliminated to accommodate expansion.

Another elimination, at least for next year, will be theater performances. Instead, students will perform in different spaces. The fall production of War of the Worlds will be performed in another space on campus.

The other productions, As You Like It, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Miss Nelson is Missing will be performed off campus. One will be performed at the Lutheran High School at 124th and Wornall. And the final production–usually a musical– will travel to different area high schools.

The Goppert Design Studio will include 16 iMacs.

The improved performing arts space is a boon for Avila undergraduate students, 23 percent of which participate in the performing arts through curricular and co-curricular activities. Additionally, more than 20 community groups and an estimated 14,000 community members annually utilize or attend a performance in the existing Goppert Theatre.

The project was made possible by a generous lead gift from Vita Goppert, an Avila alumna and benefactor. Avila alumni and friends contributed the remaining funds which will see the project through to completion.

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