Theater, Athletics Receive Funds to Expand Campus Facilities

By Caitlin Burns | October 10, 2019

Steel Space and Kuch Center during renovations

The University continues to expand its academic and extracurricular facilities, with more renovations to the Black Box Theater, esports hub, and Kuch Center.

This summer, the Arcadia Foundation awarded a $91,000 grant to the University to renovate the Black Box Theater to support Arcadia’s growing Theater Arts program. The Foundation, which was established in 2001 in Norristown, supports organizations in a variety of fields, including medical, education, environmental conservation and welfare. 

Facilitated by the introduction of the Musical Theater concentration in 2017, enrollment has increased steadily, with prospective students from Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, California, Texas, and Vermont visiting Arcadia for auditions. 

To meet the needs of students, provide appropriate performance space for students, and enhance cultural experiences for the local community, renovations have been underway at the Steel Space theater, at the intersection of Church and Waverly roads. Formerly a storage and warehouse, this new space will provide an adaptable facility with additional audience seating, more teaching and performance space, and the potential to expand community partnerships.

“I think of what’s happened over the summer with the Steel Space theater as phase one, and this year we will be testing out the space to see what we still need going forward,” said Mark Wade, assistant professor and program director of Theater Arts. “This is an amazingly positive thing for us. We knew it would be a bumpy road getting it ready, but every issue has been outweighed by the many positives.”

Renovations to open the Steel Space theater will be complete by mid-October; however, Wade anticipates work to continue over the next several months as the space is used and new needs arise. He plans to create a more community-centered theater opportunity with the new space, so the department can build relationships with local schools and organizations to host classes, summer camps and workshops.  

“The hope is that this space becomes an outward facing part of the University that isn’t behind a wall and invites people in,” said Wade. “It was a beautiful underutilized space that people might not know about, and it’s a space that, for the first time since I’ve been here, is really meant for theatrical classes and productions, rather than something that we make work.”

To maximize the effectiveness of campus space, the former site of the Black Box Theater has transformed into the new hub for the University’s new co-educational varsity esports program. The 1,500-square-foot space will serve as the central competition arena for games such as League of Legends, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Rocket League.

In addition to the new esports hub, the Kuch Center’s 2,500-square-foot expansion will continue through the fall semester. Partially funded by the Lenox West family, the project will increase fitness space for the Arcadia University community and varsity teams. 

“Our athletics programs have grown considerably in recent years from 14 varsity sports in 2012 to what will be 26 by 2021,” said Brian Granata, executive director of Athletics. “As our program has expanded, our workout facilities have become overcrowded and impacted our ability to train teams effectively. This expansion will help us better serve the needs of the entire campus community, including our growing number of student-athletes.”