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Release date: Oct. 10, 2000
Contact: Deb Hammacher, Assistant Director, 404-727-0644, or

Emory University Breaks Ground Oct. 19 On Performing Arts Center

Emory University's campus will overflow with culture on Thursday, Oct. 19 when the university breaks ground for the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.

Before and after the 4 p.m. ceremony, student musicians, singers, dancers and actors will celebrate the birth of their new home with performances at the site and along the route to a nearby reception area. The center will be the centerpiece of an increasing arts presence across the campus.

"In the future, the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts will be considered one of the great historic buildings on the Emory campus, because of the outstanding design and acoustics, and for its power to transform the arts here and in our broader community," says Emory College Dean Steven Sanderson.

The venue is named in honor of an Emory alumna and her husband in recognition of their $8 million gift to the arts center. The estimated $35 million facility is designed in keeping with Emory's historic buildings, and will include a 825-seat concert hall with choral balcony and orchestra pit, a smaller instrumental rehearsal hall, practice and ensemble rooms, a 135-seat lab theater and a 135-seat dance studio. The three-level (two floors above ground), 98,000-square-foot facility will be nestled between the Goizueta Business School and the Fishburne Parking Deck near the intersection of Clifton and North Decatur roads. The center was designed by Michael Dennis and Associates of Boston, in association with Howard-Montgomery-Steger of New Orleans, and Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart of Atlanta. The acoustic consultant is Kirkegaard and Associates and the theater design group is Theatre Projects Consultants.

The Schwartz Center will be the focal point among other new and redesigned facilities dedicated to the arts that, in combination, will create an arts village across the southern quadrant of campus. These facilities all have the academic mission of the university at their heart. "We recognize that the arts are among the greatest and longest-lasting products of human civilization," says Sanderson. "Emory is creating a place where the encouragement and stewardship, the teaching and learning of the arts can thrive."

Since 1985 enrollment in arts-related courses has more than doubled, and attendance at arts events now annually exceeds 30,000. A recent Emory College curriculum revision now explicitly requires an arts component. "Over the past five years we have made impressive progress in the renovation of facilities for the arts as part of an arts village concept," says Rosemary Magee, senior associate dean of Emory College. "The Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts will serve as the centerpiece of our arts endeavors; it represents the culmination of many years of dreams, plans and hard work. It will truly provide a magnificent presence for the arts on campus and in the city."

Donna and Marvin Schwartz are arts patrons in New York City who wanted to make a significant contribution to the performing arts at Emory. Donna Keesler Schwartz, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Emory College in 1962, previously worked in public affairs at Exxon Corp. Marvin Schwartz, a 1962 graduate of Baruch College of the City University of New York, is a principal in the investment management firm Neuberger Berman in New York. The Schwartzes have two children, 14-year-old Charles, and Elizabeth Jessie Schwartz, who is a 1997 graduate of Emory College also interested in the arts.

The Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts is part of Emory's comprehensive campus master plan, which was unveiled in spring 1997. The plan, which guides the university's future growth and development, calls for the construction of eight major buildings within the next several years, including a science classroom/laboratory facility, a new nursing school and a medical research building, all within Emory's current boundaries. A major goal of the plan is to create a pedestrian campus and to replace cars and concrete with green spaces and walkways.

Oxford College of Emory University recently broke ground on the Hugh and Gena Tarbutton Center for the Arts, a two-story annex to historic Few Hall. The expansion of arts facilities at Oxford is part of a comprehensive plan for that campus also completed in 1997. Oxford College, located in Oxford, Ga., is a two-year undergraduate division of the university, located on the original 1836 Emory campus.

Included among work by the student artists at the Schwartz Center groundbreaking will be dance performances, brass ensembles, and theater performances. The schedule to date is as follows:

3:30 or
3:45 p.m.


Students in professor/actor John Ammerman’s theater movement class will do a stage combat demonstration in front of the Rich Building, across from the groundbreaking site.

3:45 p.m.


A dance ensemble will perform "The Tango Project" on the quadrangle.

4 p.m.


A brass ensemble will play as part of the ceremony.


4:45 p.m.


A dance ensemble of 80 students will perform "Chair Pillow Dance" in front of Cox Hall (the clock tower building on the route between the site and the reception).
  Rathskeller, the student improv troupe, will perform on the hill between Cox Hall and the Dobbs University Center.
  AdHoc, the student musical theater group, will perform a song from their current production, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" on Asbury Circle between the groundbreaking and reception sites.
  A brass ensemble will perform at the Dobbs University Center for the post-ceremony

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