Glanzer said the college first addressed the issue in 1983 with a campaign to raise $6.3 million to build a library addition, a new music building and a new auditorium.
“They got the library built, in 1990 they built the Wohlgemuth music building, but there was no money left for the auditorium,” Glanzer said.
In the intervening years, other building projects took priority, including the Campus Recreation Center, the acquisition of the duplexes along D Street that now serve as the Visitor Center, the Historic Church project, plus the construction of Dakota Hall, the S.L. Loewen Science Hall, the student townhouses and the stadium and Athletic Center.
“It’s 30 years later, and we still don’t have an auditorium,” Glanzer said. “Meanwhile, during that whole time the choir—arguably the best choir in the state of Kansas—and the band continued to play and don’t really have a home.”
The lack of an auditorium has also been challenging for drama productions and musicals.
“When we’ve put on homecoming musicals, you’ve seen the actors literally change costumes underneath the stage while the whole (production) was going on,” Glanzer said.
“If you’ve seen the orchestra pit, it’s not really a pit—it’s a couple of levels where (musicians) sit in the corner and we cover it up with black.
“Judy (Harder, associate professor of theater) has done an incredible job of making due with very little.”
In addition to a dearth of adequate performance venues, the new auditorium would finally give the college a gathering place large enough to accommodate the entire student body, which has grown each of the past several years.
“We said now is the time to do it,” Glanzer said of the project. “We’ve launched a campaign that is larger than anything in our history. The last time we had something that had this kind of (campus) impact, they built the gym and student center.”
Prior to moving to the public phase of the campaign, a small team of fundraisers quietly have been contacting donors about sizeable gifts to reach a goal of $3.5 million to complete the leadership phase.
Glanzer said the team of five staff believes it is close to reaching that goal.
Once reached, the college has been invited by the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, based in Tulsa, Okla., to make a presentation for a challenge grant of up to $1.5 million. If the grant is approved, the project will enter the public phase of fundraising.
In total, the college already has commitments for about $4 million; of that, just over $800,000 has been raised from donors living in Hillsboro’s 67063 zip code.
“All the rest of it has come from outside our area,” Glanzer said.
He added that of the $800,000, about $400,000 has been committed by Tabor faculty and staff over the next three years.
Once sufficient funding is in place, construction of the center is projected to take 18 to 24 months.
Glanzer said he expects the new fine arts center to be an asset for the college and community for many years to come.
“It’s for Tabor College and the programs we have—and we will use it very much,” he said. “But we also want it to be a destination venue for other kinds of shows to come in so people will come here to the community and attend.
“Traveling shows are an example,” he added. “We want to build it in such a way thay they would be welcomed here, and will use this facility. We think we can build a reputation over time that people from Wichita, Newton, McPherson and surrounding area will want to come here.”
Glanzer said he expects the new facility to help the college continue to build its enrollment.
“Our focus right now is to try and increase (enrollment in) the arts—drama and music and visual arts are all important parts of this. We need to have good facilities to increase the enrollment in those areas.”
At the start of his presentation, Glanzer stressed the interdependent connection between the college and the wider Hillsboro community.
“Our desire at Tabor is to be park-like (in appearance) and for the community to be idyllic,” he said. “I hope we all realize we are dependent on each other to be successful.”
While the new fine arts center will serve the college’s needs first, Glanzer it also will be asset for the community and county.
For example, the new facility will have aesthetically pleasing entrances on both its east front, which faces the campus, and its north front, which will be facing B Street.
“We want to make it available to the community for use,” Glanzer said. “We have designed the doors and things like that to make it very easy to do that. At least in the preliminary design, that’s where it’s heading.”
In addition to infusing of capital into the area through fundraising, Glanzer said the project’s architectural firm is committed to working with local contractors when possible.
Also, once completed, the center will bring at least three new jobs to the community.
“We always want to be good neighbors and try to help the economic development of the community,” he said.
At the same time, Glanzer said he understands if local residents take a “wait and see” approach regarding the project
“We’ve been waiting 30 years, will this really happen?” he said about past efforts. “We have a vision, we have a dream, and we’ve put some resources to it to make it happen.”