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Monday November 27, 2000

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Preparations for hall continue despite lack of funding

By Blake Smith

Arizona Daily Wildcat

About $3 million still needed before officials can raise the roof

The UA School of Music and Dance is continuing with preparations for a new $9 million performance hall, despite not having the necessary funds to make the project a reality.

Jory Hancock, UA professor of dance, estimated that between $2.5 to $3 million still has to be raised before construction of the facility, which will be on the UA Mall adjacent to the Ina Gittings building, can begin.

"The Dance Advisory Board has pledged $100,000," Hancock said. "There are also a few donors who could make small pledges, between $25,000 and $100,000."

The school is still counting on having full funding for the project in time for groundbreaking in the fall of 2001, said Robert Cutietta, director of the University of Arizona School of Music and Dance.

"We are still on a full speed ahead track and trusting the money will come through," Cutietta said in an e-mail interview Wednesday.

He added that architects for the project were on campus last week to present more detailed plans for the project - a sign that officials are not discouraged by the lack of money.

The building's expected completion date is January 2003 to abide by a request from the largest donor that it be done by then.

Hancock said the donor set the deadline to get the project on track and they had not threatened to pull their monetary support if it was not completed then.

Even if $9 million cannot be raised, Hancock said there are other options.

"We have ways to scale it back to $8 million and still have a really nice building," he said. "We leave ourselves a margin we can make."

He added that the size of the building and number of seats could be reduced to accommodate the reduction.

"Having a smaller house is not a large problem for performances," Hancock said.

Many people may be discouraged by the prospect of having another building on the Mall, he added, but the facility's boundaries won't reach much further than the Gitting's pool, which will be torn out to make room for the hall.

"We're being really careful about the size of the footprint that we make on the Mall," Hancock said.

He estimated that it would have cost nearly $20 million to move the dance department and the proposed facility to the fine arts complex, located near the Harvill building.

Dealing with the size of the "footprint" on the Mall and finding funding sources will be major hurdles for the UA School of Music and Dance to clear over the next few months if they plan to make the project a reality.

But Hancock is certain it will these glitches will be worked out.

"We're going to be fine," he said.