In 2010 the University of Central Florida unveiled its “Newest Star:” the Performing Arts Center and focused the spotlight on fine arts at a breakfast in downtown Orlando.
President John C. Hitt and the Board of Trustees detailed the center’s first phase to a ballroom of guests which included multiple teaching studios and voice rooms, an electro-acoustic music lab, percussion ensemble rooms, and a recording studio. That Fall and thereafter, UCF’s music and theater students waited for the next phase to bring the program up to speed with the rest of the country’s first-tier universities.
The second phase of the project planned to host “first-class theatre and music performances for UCF and the surrounding communities to enjoy.” But, the plans have sat in limbo as officials wait for a benefactor to stake their claim while state funding diminishes.
“There’s been no change in the status of this project, as state funding is limited and the university has remained focused on other critical needs,” a university spokesman said.
“The UCF Foundation continues to talk to potential donors but has not yet received significant philanthropic donations earmarked for the arts center.”
The baseball stadium faced similar troubles as a small billboard rendering and project teaser sat in front of the entrance for years. John Euliano would come along and donate enough for an overhaul to what would become the John Euliano Baseball Park.
UCF set out to raise half a billion dollars in 2016 to make up for losses from the state by launching the IGNITE Campaign. Ninety percent of the fundraising has been met to recruit faculty, expand scholarship funds, facilitate research, facilities, and technology, their page reports. The $500 million will also go to UCF Downtown, Global UCF, healthcare innovations, and stewardship of the environment.
The second phase of the performing arts center will still not see these dollars if private donations remain the only source of funding. Officials estimate a price tag of over $60 million needed to see the project through completion.
However, music and theater alumni may not need to wait another decade to see the project to stand on its feet – a glimmer of hope arose in UCF’s 2018 capital projects list: $20 million set aside for a building to go to the UCF Marching Knights and phase two of the performing arts center. That, now, is on hold as the university reels from $48 million in misused funds from its former CFO, the consequences being state audits and investigations, media suppression, and a moratorium on projects over $2 million in value.
There is no date for the hold to be lifted, but at the earliest, the project may begin within the next fiscal year 2019-2023. Until then, the performing arts center will limbo once more.
Photos: UCF Communications