C of C celebrating grand opening of Cato Center for the Arts

The College of Charleston’s School of the Arts will celebrate the grand opening of its new building, the Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts on January 9, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Read all about the incredible new addition to campus from the press release:

The community is invited to explore all five floors of the $27.2 million building while enjoying sweets and mini-presentations of music, theatre, dance and other events. Guests will also enjoy the final day of an exhibition of works by Hilton Head Island, S.C. artist, Aldwyth, in the Halsey Institute. This esteemed artist will give a lecture at 2 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the Simons Center for the Arts, adjacent to the new building. The event will kick off the School of the Arts’ 20th anniversary celebration in 2010. In October 2009, the public was invited to celebrate the opening of the first floor featuring the new home of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.

Over the college’s winter break, three departments will move into the other four floors of the new 70,000-sq.ft. building. The department of music will be housed on the second floor, which features rehearsal and performance space for ensembles, nineteen practice rooms and ample office space for faculty. The department of theatre will be on the third floor with large movement, dance and lighting studios as well as faculty offices. The fourth floor will house painting studios for faculty and students with commanding views of the scenic peninsula skyline. The fifth floor will contain a photography suite replete with “gang” darkroom and digital lab facilities. Along with the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, the first floor of the building is also home to the Hill Exhibition Gallery, a new catering kitchen and a state-of-the-art administrative conference room.

The School of the Arts has reinvented itself, growing from a small fine arts department into one of the fastest-growing, comprehensive arts schools in the nation in less than 20 years. The school’s original building, the Albert Simons Center for the Arts, was built in 1979 to serve no more than 800 students. Now, more than eight times that number use the facility – an indication of the School of the Arts’ continued success in attracting talented and creative students, faculty and staff.

To keep up with the school’s growing needs the architectural firm Stevens & Wilkinson was hired to design The Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts. Stevens & Wilkinson has previous experience in the design of cultural and educational facilities, including the renovations of the Columbia Museum of Art and the McMaster Art School at the University of South Carolina.

The School of the Arts looks forward to improving its facilities through private and public funding in order to continue to meet the challenges and opportunities that the school's incredible growth has created. Renovations of the Simons Center for the Arts will be the next step to upgrading its facilities.

You can also get a sneak peek at the inside of the new building at the College of Charleston's School of the Arts page.

The Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts is located at 161 Calhoun Street.