Responses to questions regarding the status of The Cole Art Center and the future of live fine arts performances at Stephen F. Austin State University:

The COVID economy has forced SFA to undergo restructuring. Across campus the delivery of academic programs has been prioritized, so those programs that are more distantly related to our central academic focus are the most at-risk. The Cole Art Center is an important and valuable outreach to our community and will be utilized for special events throughout the year. The Cole Art Center is not closed permanently, but we will not be able to restore staffing at the previous levels until the university’s budget can support reopening.

We are thrilled about the renovation and expansion project currently underway at the Griffith Fine Arts Building. Due to this construction project, Turner Auditorium will be unavailable during this academic year, but performances in music and theatre are part of the academic program, so they will go forward in available spaces with appropriate social distancing measures in place. We will likely livestream some of the performances, as we have been doing for the past several years.

– Dr. A.C. “Buddy” Himes, dean of the College of Fine Arts

Our plan at this time is that the Cole Art Center will be used for special events in the coming academic year, including faculty-led and student-led events that tie directly to academic programs. While the FY21 funding for staffing the center was impacted by budget reductions, there are possibilities that may involve student workers and/or volunteers. We will continue to explore other funding options for the center and its staffing, through the school, the college and the university. There is an effort by the SFA Friends of the Visual Arts to secure funding to address staffing the center. The support of this group has been instrumental to our work in the past, and we appreciate their efforts.

To some extent, the operations we can conduct in the coming academic year will be subject to how face-to-face events can be held to meet all pandemic-related guidelines.

– Dr. Steve Bullard, provost and vice president for academic affairs

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