Mary Tutwiler

Art center theater to become a reality

by Mary Tutwiler

A long awaited theatre which will be part of the Acadiana Center for the Arts complex is back on track after a hiatus of a year, after bids came back under budget on Wednesday. “We’re exuberant,” says ACA executive director Gerd Wuestemann. The Lemoine Company of Lafayette’s low bid of $11.2 million will even allow art center executive architect Steve Oubre to add back in three design elements that had been designated as optional in order to keep costs down. “They were aesthetic options,” says Wuestemann, “but really important to the integration of the theatre to the streetscape downtown. It’s going to be one of the most beautiful public facilities in the region.”

The theatre is the second phase of the art center, which moved from cramped quarters on Lee Avenue four years ago to the renovated LBA Bank building on the corner of Jefferson and Vermilion. When bids came in 50 percent over budget last November, Oubre redesigned some elements of the new theatre, and the new plans went out for bid in August. Approximately $14 million in state funding is secure, so as soon as the bid is approved by the city, Lemoine can begin breaking ground, possibly by January 2009.

“This is more than a second phase for the art center,” says Wuestemann. “It allows us to become a truly integrated facility, incorporating visual arts, performing arts, education and community development. It will be a hub for this community and a focal point for downtown.”