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For Immediate Release

Arts Center Vision Becomes Reality

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 26, 2010 – Members of the Fine Arts Department at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College took a road trip 15 years ago that eventually led to the construction of the premier home for fine arts in South Texas.

 Fine Arts Faculty took a road trip 15 years ago that led to the construction of The Arts Center.

Fine Arts Department Faculty and Staff pictured left to right: Kay Clark, Allen Clark, Nancy Sclight, Dr. Sue Zanne Urbis and Terry Tomlin.

Fine Arts Professor Terry Tomlin remembers the group’s trip to view collegiate arts facilities throughout Texas.

“We took the school van,” he said. “The air conditioning went out, so we immediately returned and we took my van. It left my wife in a bit of a lurch for transportation. It was all worth it.”

Tomlin said the group wanted to look at the qualities they desired in an arts facility for UTB/TSC. These ideas formed the initial concept for the $25 million Arts Center, which held its first inaugural year event, A Night of Strings, on Monday, Feb. 15.

“It’s been such a long time coming, and we are just ecstatic to have it,” Tomlin said. “The room you play in is part of your instrument – it’s an extension of what you do.”

Dr. Sue Zanne Urbis, chair of the Fine Arts Department, said she was pleased they were able to get the three top things desired: a performance hall, rehearsal rooms and teaching studios. She said she was thrilled how the faculty decided how to prioritize their wish lists to create a gleaming, modern arts facility.

Tomlin was also part of a faculty trip three years ago to Rice University and the Kinkaid Center at The Kinkaid School in Houston to study arts facilities.

Tomlin said the group knew when they visited the Kinkaid Center that they had the inspiration needed for The Arts Center’s 808-seat performance hall.

 “We went in there and we saw that this is what we wanted,” Tomlin said.

Allen Clark, associate professor and director of bands, low brass and the UTB/TSC Wind Ensemble, was also on the Houston trip. By coincidence, he attended the University of Houston with the Kinkaid Center’s band director, Fred Angerstein.

“The thing we noticed when we went to the different campuses was the elegance of the settings, and we realized the settings in the venues we had to perform in were not up to standard,” Clark said.

Clark, and other Fine Arts Department members, said they are pleased with the result of years of planning, fundraising and construction for The Arts Center, a performance and teaching venue built between the Fort Brown Resaca and Jacob Brown Auditorium.

“The performance qualities of that stage are enormous,” said Clark. “It’s a resonant stage that one can play without straining. The smallest nuances are heard in the second balcony.”

Clark said he is glad area residents supported the arts by contributing to The Arts Center’s construction and attending A Night of Strings.

“I’m really excited that our kids will experience this world-class venue like they have in other places,” he said.

Dr. Roberto Robles, a Texas Southmost College trustee and a Brownsville cardiologist, made a significant gift to The Arts Center project in May 2008. He and his wife, Perla, now have a teaching studio named for them.

“We knew being part of this effort means that we were helping to give a gift to the entire region,” Robles told the audience at the A Night of Strings event on Monday, Feb. 15. “You are witnessing the evolution of teaching that is going on in Brownsville.”

A Night of Strings featured guitar, cello and violin musicians from elementary age to adult performing on stage. Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor of The University of Texas System, was a special guest for the concert and played guitar with the students.

Others that have given significant gifts to The Arts Center are Sergio and Magda Arguelles, Charles C. Butt, Ruben and Bernice Edelstein, Graciela Gutierrez, Dr. Kal and Gigi Habet,   Richard and Elka Jaross, Neal and Lourdes Simmons, Jim and Amy Tipton, Alejandro and Irma Villarreal, and James and Gloria Zellerbach.

Businesses that have made gifts are H-E-B, International Bank of Commerce and Keppel AmFELS.

Students will begin taking classes and attending practices in the building shortly after Spring Break, which is Monday, March 15 to Friday, March 19.

The Arts Center will host an evening of performances from the university’s Fine Arts Department groups at “New Sound: The Vision Continues” on Saturday, May 1. More event details will be announced later.

To learn more about giving opportunities for The Arts Center, contact the UTB/TSC Division of Institutional Advancement at (956) 882-4322.


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