Last night the SFCC Board of Trustees authorized us to enter into negotiations for architectural and engineering services as well as construction management for renovating the SFCC Auditorium.
This wonderful auditorium was conceived and built almost one billion seconds ago. No one knows for sure how many performances, meetings, graduations, and other events have occurred in this concert hall during that time span (30 years for those of you who have run out of fingers and toes). The creation of this facility was a community effort, as the plaque on the building proclaims. The leaders of that effort were certainly visionary, and we all owe them our deepest appreciation, not only for their vision, but for their generosity as well. This past season was my sixth, but I know there are many among you, our loyal patrons, who have been enjoying this cultural enrichment here in Florida’s Heartland for most of that 30 years. Imagine how different life in our part of the state would be without this invaluable resource—I can’t.
We have a responsibility to protect this investment and to make sure that 30 years from now audiences will look back and thank us for our vision, our generosity, and for continuing to offer fine entertainment suited to the varied tastes of our patrons. That is why we are undertaking the challenge of renovating the facility—to make the cultural experience even more enjoyable. Modern performances use technology, sets, lighting, sound, special effects, and tricks of the trade that could not be anticipated back in 1978. Building codes have changed, engineering of safety and environmental factors have improved, and even the comfort level of the seating available in modern auditoriums is far superior. This community deserves a state-of-the-art theater and performance hall that can accommodate just about any production and any concert we desire to offer our audiences.
Last year we completed a feasibility study and determined that we can modify the stage area to accommodate modern sets, we can improve the sight lines and comfort for our patrons, and we can enlarge the lobby and other ancillary spaces necessary for today’s and tomorrow’s performances. We have most of the money required, but we will need more to do the job the right way. I’m confident our current patrons will be even more generous in their support than the amazing people who built this auditorium in the first place—almost one billion seconds ago.
Our preliminary plans call for completing next season’s performances by early April of 2009, then immediately commencing with the renovation work—on a very fast track. We would finish the work in time for the opening of the 2009-2010 season, perhaps with a later than usual start. We do not want to miss a single show.
We could not do this without our loyal patrons! I know that I speak for our Board of Trustees, the faculty and staff, and all of as at South Florida Community College when I say thank you for your patronage.