TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Groundbreaking took place on Wednesday to celebrate the upcoming renovations for a standout performing arts center. Wise Auditorium has been a landmark of TJC since 1956, and will be transformed into the Rogers Palmer Performing Arts Center.
TJC Chancellor and CEO Dr. Mike Metke said, “What this facility means to this College and this community is beyond what we can imagine. The talent that has come to TJC over the years has been amazing. So many of you have benefited from it and come back, and so many have gone on to national fame and fortune as well.”
Construction begins immediately with an expected completion date of January 2021.
The campaign for TJC performing arts was launched in April 2018 providing $7.5 million in private funding for the new construction. In January, the Rogers Foundation committed $3 million to name the facility.
Metke said, “None of this would be possible without the generosity of the Rogers Foundation. The Rogers Foundation has changed our world at TJC, with the Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Center and now with the Rogers Palmer Performing Arts Center, which addresses our No. 1 and No. 2 programs in enrollment.”
The Rogers Palmer Performing Arts Center will include 14,000 square feet in additional space with:
- A new stage
- State-of-the-art technology
- New seating
- Advanced sound system
- New performance space and art gallery
- Large main lobby
- Concession area
- Large green room, rehearsal, and dance studios
- Presidential suit to host community guests
The new facility will ensure that TJC can recruit talent, grow the art program, and build a programming culture for East Texas.
With $300,000 from a tax-supported bond, Wise Auditorium opened in 1956 with 725 seats and accompanying classrooms.
Mitch Andrews, TJC vice president for institutional advancement, said, “We must acknowledge the legacy of Emma and Watson Wise, whose generosity helped build the foundation for the arts at TJC and build this facility. Wise Auditorium has not only served as a resource for the arts but also a resource for our community that is utilized broadly by TJC and East Texas.”
With the growing program including TJC Academy of Dance, vocal and instrumental recitals, theatre productions, and Apache Belles and Band, the Wise Auditorium lacks resources to support the multiple programs.
“Last year, almost 20,000 individuals came to this facility for a variety of activities and events,” Andrews said. “For some, it was an introduction to TJC. For some, it was an introduction to the arts. For more than six decades, this facility has served as one of the front doors of our College. Today, we recognize a new, significant beginning.”