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Fine Arts Building undergoes changes

For the first time since it was built in 1969,  the M.P. Bush Fine Arts Building at Jones College was majorly renovated.

This project, which was initiated by Jones College President Dr. Jesse Smith started in December 2022 with replacing the seats but quickly grew into a much larger renovation.

“Dr. Smith challenged us to begin the renovation about a year and a half ago, and we initially started with just trying to re-do the seats,” said Bruce Smith, dean of the School of Arts, Music and Performance. “That expanded into doing more of the lobby and first floor and also into changing some of the interior portions of the fine arts auditorium itself.”

According to Bruce Smith, the renovation took roughly 11 months, and the auditorium portion of the renovation included putting in new seats, putting down new flooring and carpet, painting the ceilings black, putting up new sheetrock and replacing the light fixtures. Renovation in the lobby included placing new flooring and painting the walls.

Since the debut of the updated building, it has already been used for several events, and there have been many positive reactions to the changes that were made.

“My symphonic band, as well as the SEMBDA and JCJC Band clinic performances were on the stage,” said Ben Burge, director of bands and instructor of music at Jones College. “The house was full and it was very exciting. The lights, the chairs, and the overall ambience is really nice.”

The M.P. Bush Fine Arts Building will continue to be used for performances, both for Jones College’s artists and visiting artists.

“I am hopeful that our new performing space will be a wonderful place for our students and for outside performing groups to use,” said Burge. “It is really nice, and visiting artists to the Pinebelt could benefit from it.”

According to Bruce Smith, those outside of performing arts will also be able to utilize and benefit from the newly-renovated auditorium.

“The Fine Arts Building is not only used for the events that we do within the School of Art, Music and Performance, but we also use it for any outside entity in the college that needs a space large enough to host an event,” said Bruce Smith.

Bruce Smith also said that the building is used for  SkillsUSA, FBLA, Student Government Association and graduation ceremonies for the nursing programs. It is also opened up to the public to rent for high school graduations and fine arts events.

Burge said that he has seen his students take pride in the changes made to the Fine Arts Building. He also said that they are looking ahead for continued improvements.

“Our students are proud of the space and are looking forward to the classroom and bathroom updates to follow,” Burge said.

Overall, Bruce Smith said that he believes the students deserved to have a more modern auditorium, and he hopes that people will come to performances for the students rather than to just see the building.

“I hope that they’re excited about the product and that sitting in the seats and enjoying the theatre just enhances the product,” said Bruce Smith. “We don’t want them to come into the theatre and say, ‘Wow this is a great thing.’ We want them to come and enjoy the show and the theatre to be comfortable and for it to enhance the show.”

Jaylynn Conner

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