Cullen Auditorium is scheduled to undergo an $8 million renovation with the university hoping to break ground on the project this summer.
The project is set to renovate the inside of Cullen while creating a new lobby space. The hope for the renovation is similar to construction of Wildcat Stadium: keeping Homecoming at home, this time with the annual Homecoming Musical.
Kevin Campbell, senior vice president of operations, said this is an opportunity to keep visiting alumni home on campus.
“We had some alumni who were really saying, ‘Hey, I think there’s an opportunity to do something similar for the Homecoming Musical’,” Campbell said. “Right now, when our alums and different folks come back for Homecoming, rather than sending them to a different facility for the Homecoming Musical, what would it potentially do for Homecoming is we are able to keep our alums and people here on campus.”
Cullen Auditorium is a versatile space on campus used not only for the Department of Theatre and the Department of Music but also for the Office of Spiritual Formation, Cornerstone classes and events like Summit. Enhancing the space would enhance the ability to host a multitude of events.
“So essentially what we started realizing is if we were going to potentially try to set something up so we could bring the Homecoming Musical back there are other ways that we can enhance this facility that’s used so frequently to give us more options to host different types of events but also improve the quality of those already there,” Campbell said.
The renovation itself would not be a gut renovation. Instead, Campbell said the university plans to keep many aspects intact but also completely redo things, such as the bathrooms, flooring and paint.
“With Cullen, it’s going to be a very significant renovation but planning to keep the stage intact,” Campbell said. “We will be re-using the existing seating but will be reconfiguring it in a way that it’s not going to have these aisles that are 50 seats in one row. You’re going to have some different styles and to break it up and we’re going to be adding some more accessibility sections.”
In addition to improving the general functionality of the space, the space will be approved acoustically which will greatly benefit the theatre and music departments.
Dr. Greg Straughn, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, is hoping to host more shows in the space.
“My expectation for the music department would be that we do more of our regular concert productions in Cullen in the future because it will just be a better space for us,” Straughn said. “We could do other kinds of shows, a little more intimate, a little more of the cabaret side.”
The project is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2022.