Moline High School students now have a bigger stage and better space for the performing arts. This afternoon, the school hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the Bartlett Performing Arts Center.
Moline Principal Trista Sanders says the old auditorium was built in 1958, and hadn't received any major updates since. The technology was outdated, the acoustics were not great, and the stage was small with limited storage for sets and props. To top it all off, dressing rooms were in a basement that would occasionally flood.
"It's been a beautiful expansion," said Sanders. "Not only does it add a lot of curb appeal to the building, but, although we have reduced the number of seats by a bit, about a hundred seats fewer, we still have 800 person seating. It's now stadium style seating, so there's not a bad view from anywhere in the auditorium."
The renovation also includes a larger stage and orchestra pit, resurfaced walls and ceilings to help with acoustics, new band and choir rooms, a black box theater, a huge scene shop, and dressing rooms with no risk of flooding.
The 11 million dollar cost was mostly funded by the Robert E. Bartlett Family Foundation. Actress Bonnie Bartlett is a Moline High School alumnus and supporter of the arts.
The school will host a preview Friday, March 8th, featuring short chorus, orchestra, and theater performances. The first major production on the new stage will be the musical "Meet Me in Saint Louis" on March 21st through the 23rd.