Fresno Pacific University donors, administrators, faculty, staff and friends broke ground Nov. 15 for the Warkentine Culture and Arts Center in a socially distanced celebration.
Al and Dotty Warkentine, longtime supporters for whom the building is named, talked about how the seed for the project was planted when Dotty would give music lessons in a collection of classrooms not meant for music instruction.
The center will empower students and faculty to teach and learn about music, theater and the visuals arts while reaching out to the rich cultures of the Southeast Fresno neighborhood around the main campus.
Speakers included Joseph and Yvette Jones, FPU president and first lady; Don Griffith, vice president of advancement and FPU Foundation executive director; Valerie Rempel, vice president and dean of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, which is adjacent to where the center will stand; Chuck Buller, director of development and strategic partnerships; FPU Foundation associate executive director Mark Deffenbacher; Ron Herms, dean of the School of Humanities, Religion and Social Sciences; and Rebecca Bradley, director of public relations and community engagement.
The Sunday afternoon event spaced 130 guests in small groups throughout the construction site. Many brought shovels of their own and turned earth along with the Warkentines.
The 26,000-square-foot facility includes a mainstage theater with moveable seating for 400, a black box theater seating about 100, grand foyer, art gallery and support spaces such as a green room, makeup room, scene shop, concession area and practice room.
Set to open in late fall 2021 or early 2022 on the north side of FPU’s main campus, the building is slated to cost about $14.6 million, all of which is in hand. As funding allows, the university may make about $500,000 in enhancements during construction.