A presentation to the PISD board of trustees Sept. 7 said nearly 23,000 districts students in grades 7-12 participate in fine arts programs. Bonser said the 82,200-square-foot fine arts center will be a place to celebrate the arts throughout the district.
“For our students to be able to have a place this fine to display their talents is just a dream come true,” Bonser said in a Sept. 13 interview with Community Impact Newspaper.
The fine arts center will be open for hundreds of performance dates each year. Events hosted at the center will include University Interscholastic League music and theater competitions, concerts, senior high musicals, and more, according to district staff.
“We have a very robust first-year docket [of events scheduled],” said Weston Keifer, technical manager for the Robinson Fine Arts Center. “We have very few dates open [for next year]. Basically, we're booking up to July of 2022 in order to accommodate standing PISD events as well as fine arts events for the school year.”
The facility at 1800 Alma Drive was approved as part of PISD’s $481 million bond referendum in 2016. Its venues include the 1,502-seat Main Stage Auditorium with a balcony level, the black box-style Studio Theater, the Dance/Rehearsal Studio that will host UIL competitions, and the Legacy Gallery art showroom, which is equipped to display a variety of creations.
“We are known for the quality of our arts programs—fine arts [and] performing arts—and our kids are excellent,” Bonser said. “They aspire [to] and achieve excellence in the arts, and to have a facility that matches their level of commitment to the arts is absolutely the right thing for this community.”
The center was originally expected to be finished by late 2019, but weather-related issues pushed the start of construction back to April 2019. Further delays related to COVID-19 postponed a planned opening for earlier this year, Bonser said.
The center is expected to cost $400,000-$500,000 per year to operate, she said. The PISD Education Foundation began a $3.2 million Staging the Future Endowment Campaign in May to help pay for a portion of the center’s annual operating costs. That campaign was seeded with a $500,000 bequest from the Robinson Family Trust. The campaign is slated to continue through June of next year with the goal of making an annual contribution of $150,000 to help pay for the center’s yearly operating costs.
“The No. 1 purpose [of the fine arts center] is for use by the students of the district,” said Missy Bender, president-elect of the PISD Education Foundation board. “Second to that will be the opportunity given to community groups and businesses to rent the facility. That [will] help to offset [the district’s] operating cost.”
The fine arts center was named in honor of Robbie and Lynore Robinson, who were longtime champions of the arts in Plano, according to a district news release.
“In Plano, we have valued providing many different opportunities for [students] to find their home, and one of those places is the fine arts,” Bender said. “If [students] find their home in the visual or performing arts, they can also have a home here where they can celebrate that with the community.”
For more information about the Robinson Fine Arts Center and the endowment campaign, visit www.pisd.edu/rfac.