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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 22, 2006

$2M goes to new home for UH dance, theater

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

The state yesterday released $2 million for the planning and design of a new performing arts facility on the University of Hawai'i-Manoa campus that will provide one central location for the theater and dance program.

"It will give (faculty) space to do their job really well," said Thomas Bingham, interim dean of theater and dance. "It is amazing what the faculty has been able to accomplish considering the current facilities."

The Manoa Theater and Dance Department holds classes in several locations across campus depending on what is available. The new facility will bring the program together in one location near the Kennedy Theatre the heart of performing arts on the Manoa campus.

Also slated to be a part of the new facility is a 480-space parking structure, said Jan Yokota, director of capital improvement projects at UH.

The project is expected to take a couple of years, but no deadline has been scheduled, Yokota said. It has been estimated that construction will cost $59 million, ranking the project 16th on a list of 26 capital improvement projects at UH.

The parking structure is part of the university's long-range plan to make the Manoa campus more pedestrian friendly, Yokota said.

The performing arts facility will be 81,500 square feet and will be constructed on the parking lot behind Kennedy Theatre. Both the performing arts facility and the parking structure are expected to be part of the same building, said Yokota. Three levels will be dedicated to the new facility and six levels for the parking structure.

Faculty and students in the theater and dance department are excited about the new facility, even though it is a long way off, said Bingham. Currently, no class spaces are dedicated to performing arts; instead, teachers must find whatever space is available, he said.

"The crusade to get this space has been going for decades," said Bingham.

The new facility will house classrooms, seminar rooms, dance studios, audio-visual rooms, performance spaces, rehearsal space, film and video classes, storage rooms and workshops.

"(The performing arts facility) will allow theater and dance to work together more and collaborate a lot more easily," Bingham said.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.