JBU Announces $5 Million Lead Gift to Performing Arts Center

Siloam Springs, Ark. (August 18, 2008) — John Brown University is pleased to announce that JBU alumni Bill and Donna Berry have made a $5 million lead gift commitment toward the construction of a new 500 seat auditorium and performing art center at JBU. The Bill and Donna Berry Performing Arts Center will be a venue for JBU theatre productions, music recitals and performances, speakers and lecturers, small chapel programs, large campus meetings, and other special campus events. The 23,950-square-foot facility will provide much needed performance space for the university. Currently JBU hosts most of its performing arts programs in the Jones Recital Hall, which only seats 100 people and is often too small, or in the Cathedral of the Ozarks, which seats 948 people and is often too big. Neither of the current venues has dressing room, backstage, nor set design areas necessary for performance. The Berry Performing Arts Center will allow JBU to showcase and enjoy the musical and theatrical skills of JBU students, faculty and outside performers. It will also provide a wonderful alternative venue for speaker, lectures, and other campus meetings. “We are deeply grateful for this very generous gift from Bill and Donna Berry,” said Dr. Charles W. Pollard, president of John Brown University. “They have been a source of great encouragement to us all with their faithful commitment to Christ and to the work being done at the university. It is a pleasure to recognize their commitment by naming this facility in their honor.”

Terri Wubbena, JBU professor of music, is elated with the news of the new facility, saying, “Our fine arts program has continued to grow over the last few years, and we have reached an impasse in our ability to provide our students with an adequate facility to display their talents. This auditorium is going to allow us to continue to provide the quality programs that JBU is known for. God is so faithful; this gift to the University could not have come at a more perfect time.” JBU has initiated the design and development phase for the $8.5 million project with architects SPARKS Education, A division of Crafton, Tull, Sparks & Associates, Inc. “The Berrys have greatly blessed JBU with their generosity, and their gift for this urgently needed building on the JBU campus will further our vision of providing a high quality Christian education at a reasonable cost,” said Jim Krall, JBU Vice President for University Advancement. No date for the groundbreaking has been set, yet, pending the additional funding needed to complete this project. It is anticipated that the location of the auditorium will be west of the Mabee/Chapman parking lot near the Broadhurst apartment complex. “It is hard to express in a few words the euphoria that comes from such incredible news,” said Paul Smith, JBU professor of music and director of JBU’s Cathedral Choir. “The pursuit of excellence in all forms of the performing arts has been a hallmark of the JBU experience for decades. May God give us the continued vision and determination to reflect His creative nature through this most generous gift.”