PRCC breaks ground on new Fine Arts building

POPLARVILLE, MS (WDAM) - The Fine Arts Program at Pearl River Community College has long awaited a new place to hold it's performances and thanks in part, to a generous gift from a former student, the college can finally begin the rebuilding process.

Tuesday morning PRCC officials broke ground on what they call the future site of a ground breaking new facility.

PRCC President Dr. William Lewis said, "This will be the signature building on the Poplarville campus and we are very excited. It's a very special day in our colleges' history."

Performing Arts Chair Archie Rawls said, " We have made do since Hurricane Katrina and done quite well but we will no longer have to do that."

More than a decade in the making, plans for the 1,000 seat, state of the art venue will play host to performances not only by students but local, regional and national groups.

Rawls said, "We'll have floor theatrical lighting and rigging, an orchestra pit, a state of the art audio and visual system and large lobby space suitable for art gallery space as well.

"There may not be another building quite like it in South Mississippi," said Lewis.

A first class facility, with a price tag of more than ten million dollars.

$4,000,000 million comes from the estate of Ethel Holden Brownstone, a one time PRCC student and patron of the arts.

Brownstone's niece Ethel Ladner said, "She would be so happy and proud, she was a great lady, great southern lady."

Lewis said, "Upon her passing, she remembered the college and several Baptist churches in this area and charities scattered all across the Eastern half of the United States."

In addition to the Brownstone gift, Hurricane Katrina insurance settlement money will help with construction costs, as well as a $350,000 grant awarded by The Mississippi Arts Commission.

Construction on the Ethel Holden Brownstone Performing Arts Center is expected to take a year to 18 months.

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