The University of Alabama has raised the curtain on construction of the Smith Family Center for the Performing Art is underway. The center on the Bryce Campus was made possible by the family of Mark Smith, the late cofounder of the Huntsville-based telecommunications company Adtran.
Clay Smith, the son of Mark and a graduate of the University of Alabama, announced the $20 million donation on behalf of his mother and his wife.
He said the new center pays homage to his father and his family’s love of the arts.
“A lot of philanthropic lessons were taught through my father, who cared deeply about medicine, education and the arts,” Smith said. “But for all our experiences as a family, the magnet has always been the arts.
“We’re honored to help provide those same joys and opportunities to the University and its future artists and performers.”
UA President Stuart Bell said the arts center will be a featured attraction for the university.
“The Smith Family Center for the Performing Arts will help set a new standard of excellence for both students and faculty,” Bell said. “We’re incredibly thankful to the Smith family and everyone’s support in making our campus an epicenter for performing arts.”
Dr. Joseph P. Messina, dean of the UA College of Arts and Sciences, said the new center will add to the school’s already nationally recognized performing arts program.
“As our outstanding faculty continues to attract and prepare some of the nation’s most talented students, the new state-of-the-art rehearsal and production spaces will allow them to unleash their fullest potential in facilities equivalent to those in which they will be working as professionals.”
Pending final approval from the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, the Smith Family Center will centralize student performance spaces for dance, theatre and opera through these venues:
- Black box theatre with flexible seating for up to 275
- Proscenium style theatre with seating for 350
- Venue specifically designed for dance, with seating for 450
The performance spaces will replace the Marian Gallaway Theatre, Bryant-Jordan Hall and The Dance Theatre as primary student performance venues on campus. The Smith Family Center will feature a variety of upgrades, including:
- Larger stage openings and off-stage spaces
- Deeper stages for ballet performances
- Orchestral pits
- Elevated audience experience
- Adjustable acoustics
- Engineered floors
Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.