FIRST LOOK: ETSU says Martin Center for the Arts on track to open in 2020


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – If you’ve driven past East Tennessee State University recently – you’ve probably noticed a new building popping up right next to the Carnegie Hotel and the Millenium Center. It’s the multimillion dollar Martin Center for the Arts that broke ground in 2017.

News Channel 11 toured the construction site Friday and has what you can expect from the new center.

ETSU leaders tell us this project has been a dream decades in the making.

They’re expecting hundreds of events each year.

They hope it will draw students to the school and enhance the academic and cultural experience for the students as well as the people in our region.

Almost two years after groundbreaking – you can see construction is well underway on the six to seven story, $54 million new arts center.

Jeremy Ross is ETSU’s Chief Operating Officer and has played a large role in the project.

He showed us the exterior, where the main lobby will be, “there will be floor to ceiling two stories, curtains, glass in this area, you can look up and you can see the upper balcony.”

We also got a look at the 1200 person main auditorium. Ross said there will also be a recital hall, blackbox theater, faculty offices, rehearsal rooms, and coral rooms, among other areas.

Dozens of people are hard at work every day to finish the new center.

“That size of an auditorium should draw in national talent and again, economic development for the region. Great partnerships for everyone as a whole,” Ross said.

It’s a center that Ross said will be a gamechanger for the university and the Tri-Cities region.

“We have a great arts program, dance program, music, theater, but we’ve never had anything like this to showcase it,” Ross said.

We’re told thousands of people are involved in the project, including donors, the city, the county and the state to help pay for it.

Over the next three months – you’re going to see more brick and glass work while technical touches are being done inside.

It was voted to be named the James C. and Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts by ETSU’s Board of Trustees.

Johnson City leaders hoping new ETSU Fine Arts Center brings big shows and more people to community

University officials told Justin Soto they expect the new Center for the Arts to be complete in Spring 2020 and ready for use in Fall 2020. 

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