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Haynes showcases DeBartolo Center for Performing Arts

Andrew Thagard | Thursday, October 2, 2003

John Haynes, Director of the Performing Arts and Executive Director of the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts at Notre Dame, highlighted the University’s new performing arts facility Wednesday, and explained the role of culture and arts in determining the success of a community during the 16th annual President’s Luncheon for Michiana Business Leaders.

Building the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, Haynes said, represents a milestone both for Notre Dame and the South Bend community. The 150,000 square foot building is set to be completed on June 1 at a cost of $62.6 million.

The facility, which features seven venues, including a main stage theatre, studio theatre, concert hall, THX-certified cinema and organ and chorale hall combines the finest aspects of performing arts innovations in a building that maintains the collegiate Gothic architectural style that characterizes Notre Dame’s campus.

The building also reflects Notre Dame’s commitment to the arts, Haynes said.

“I wanted the arts to be as pervasive at Notre Dame as athletics are,” he said. “This is a 150,000 square foot classroom. This is, in fact, primarily a teaching space.”

The building, Haynes said, is constructed on seven different foundations to ensure acoustic integrity from one stage to another. The main stage, the Patricia George Decio Theatre, will accommodate professional performances.

“I don’t think that there is a space in this building that is a higher upgrade for students than this [theatre],” Haynes said. “This is truly a professional stage. This is going to be the greatest place to see a play that you’ve ever been to in your life.”

The Regis Philbin Studio Theatre, also located in the complex, will host smaller acts. The state-of-the art theater features a floor built on movable platforms that allows the room to be rearranged as needed.

The Browing Family THX Cinema conforms to the most rigorous set of standards available for displaying 35-mm film. It is the fourth THX-certified theatre in Indiana, and the first outside of Indianapolis, Haynes said.

The Center’s organ concert hall is three stories tall and will seat 100. The room will feature a $1 million handcrafted pipe organ, currently being constructed by Master Organ Builder Paul Fritts in Tacoma, Wash. The organ will be shipped to South Bend at its completion and reassembled inside the building in February or March.

The facility will house the University’s Department of Film, Television and Theatre, but also serve all Notre Dame students and act as a bridge to the community.

“It would be a dreadful mistake to think that something like this is only for theatre majors. It will be a gateway for the community,” Haynes said. “We want this to be a campus where the arts aren’t only available, but unavoidable.”

Citing concepts from Richard Florida’s book “The Rise of The Creative Class,” Haynes also explained that performing and cultural arts can enrich a community.

Haynes described the rise of the “creative class,” made up of the 38 million people nationwide, including entrepreneurs, architects and actors, who are paid to be creative.

“Simply put, the creative class doesn’t migrate to a place characterized by strip malls and chain outlets. They migrate to cities that are more exciting and diverse,” he said. “Access to this critical mass of creative thinkers is driving economic growth today.”

Haynes said the University’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, along with increased support of the arts within South Bend, will encourage members of the creative class to move to South Bend and fuel economic growth of the region.

The University’s long-term plan, in fact, envisions developing areas surrounding the facility, including mixed-use retail space on Eddy Street and new housing in surrounding neighborhoods.

Haynes joins the University after serving as the chief executive of the California Center for the Arts. He was also president and chief executive officer of a computer service company for eight years and has spent twelve years as a television and production executive with CBS and Viacom.