About one decade since the project’s conception, Lone Star College-University Park’s $25 million Visual and Performing Arts Center will premiere to the public at a grand opening celebration Dec. 6.

Why it matters

Approved by voters in 2014 as part of the college system’s $485 million bond, the 31,000-square-foot center will provide new, larger facilities for the college’s visual and performing arts departments.

“Our students are going to be working in what I think are some of the most impressive facilities for our music and drama,” said William Grayson, LSC-UP’s theater director and a drama professor.

A closer look

Features of the new LSC-UP Visual and Performing Arts Center include facilities for the various disciplines that make up the college’s visual and performing arts department. The center was designed not only to give current students more space but to account for department growth, said Jonathan Anderson, LSC-UP’s dean of arts and humanities.

“Our current space cannot accommodate student demand,” Anderson said in an Oct. 25 email. “With the addition of the VPAC, we can meet the student’s needs and expand our offering to the community at large. More specifically, this facility will also enable us to offer more programs in art, drama and music that will increase opportunities for LSC-UP students.”

Art facilities include:
  • An art gallery
  • An art studio
Drama facilities include:
  • A 338-seat auditorium with an orchestra pit, catwalks, sound and lighting booths
  • A 100-seat black box theater
  • A costume design room
  • A scenery shop for designing and building sets
  • Dressing rooms with showers
Music facilities include:
  • A music ensemble classroom
  • Practice rooms
Other space is included for:
  • Combined office space for faculty
  • Classrooms

The timeline

Under the 2014 bond, LSC-UP’s Visual and Performing Arts Center was allotted about $29.3 million, according to Sept. 7 meeting documents from LSCS’s board of trustees.

In December 2019, the project was expected to cost around $21.67 million to build. However, the project’s construction has cost about $25 million so far, said Priscilla Arteaga, division operations manager for LSC-UP.

Due to inflated material costs seen during the project’s timeline, leaders were forced to scale down some aspects of the original plan, Anderson said Oct. 23. The project was conceived to measure between 30,000-40,000 square feet, but some features—such as individual faculty offices that changed to a shared office space—evolved.

“Since we did lose such a large percentage of our square footage, we had to create flexibility with each of our rooms,” Anderson said.

The department is communicating with the Lone Star College Foundation about potential additional funding for specific equipment that may be needed in the facility in the future, Arteaga said.

What they're saying

“Sometimes you don’t have a place at home to get stuff done. So the fact that now we have that ... I think it’s a big ... help," said Muhammad Usman Khan, a general arts student at LSC-UP.

“We now have a place for our students to perform befitting their skills and their dreams and their aspirations, which is ... a big deal," said Steven Kahla, vice president of instruction at LSC-UP.

What's next

LSC-UP leaders hope to eventually open the Visual and Performing Arts Center up for use by community performers and artists, Anderson said. However, they want to first focus on opening the facility for students and faculty.

“We’re already thinking about ‘What more can we offer our students as an experience?’ But the other piece of this is that we want to be known as ... all things cultural for northwest Houston, and we also want to connect the city to northwest Houston through the arts,” Anderson said.

More ways to further highlight art from students and local artists in the center are also being brainstormed, Anderson said. Examples include filling up blank spaces on the center’s walls with art pieces or murals once it opens.

Grand opening celebration

LSC-UP will host a grand opening celebration for its new Visual and Performing Arts Center on Dec. 6 at 4 p.m.

The event will feature:
  • Tours of the center
  • A performance of “A Christmas Carol”
  • A ribbon-cutting ceremony