Cullen Auditorium is expected to be handed over to the university in June 2022, alongside a name change that coupled with the renovation will create new future for the Cornerstone class, Chapel and the Department of Theatre.
Despite the same supply issues that have delayed the grand opening of Moody Coliseum, Cullen Auditorium has been moving forward with renovations on time. However, Cullen Auditorium new name has not been solidified since the announcement of the renovations.
“The construction progress is going well,” Kevin Campbell, senior vice president for operations said.“We anticipate that Cullen will likely be handed to the university in mid-June, we will be putting the final touches on it as we get ready for the homecoming musical in October.”
Cornerstone, the Chapel office and the Department of Theatre will make use of the new auditorium. Compared to the last years of the homecoming musical being in the Abilene Civic Center and the cornerstone class in the upstairs library.
“A lot of the renovations for it were upgrading some of the mechanical equipment and the interior,” Campbell said.“Adding a grand lobby, redoing the restrooms and adding AV and technical equipment to the auditorium were just some of the renovations.”
In the past, Cullen Auditorium has been known to flood, especially when it rains. A large part of the flooding from rainwater has also been addressed in the construction.
“We worked over the years to address the flooding,” Campbell said.“We are certainly trying to make sure we continue with those improvements. And also looking for opportunities to further solidify the facility so it doesn’t have flooding when it rains.”
The two projects of Moody and Cullen will be turned over to the university likely within a few weeks of each other. However, there will be separate grand openings for each.
The theatre department as well as ACU Opera Theatre will benefit most from the renovations according to associate professor and theatre department chair, Dawne Swearingen-Meeks.
A long-time legacy tradition is to have the homecoming musical alongside the parade and the football game. However, this has been a challenge for the theatre department since COVID-19 and construction played into the mix.
“The beautiful benefit is that we are able to bring homecoming home,” Meeks said. “It is incredibly expensive to produce a homecoming musical downtown and be able to offer the experience that our audiences have come to expect.”
The Cullen auditorium is expected to now be used for more besides the theatre department and should be fully ready by the homecoming musical in October.
“For a long time I have been waving the flag asking for financial support and help so we can continue what we love to do,” Meeks said. “I am really grateful to the administration and to have a revitalized space, Cullen had been utilized for a very long time by a number of organizations so having a space that has been given a beautiful broadway facelift is an incredible gift.”