April 4, 2013. The transformation of Farthing Auditorium into The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts at Appalachian State University is on schedule, with a completion date projected for early summer. The facility is anticipated to be open for the 2013 season of An Appalachian Summer Festival, to be presented in July.
The building renovations are being funded privately through a $7 million gift from Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer, whose generous corporate sponsorship by Westglow Resort and Spa and Rowland’s Restaurant has enabled the festival to make significant improvements to the quality and diversity of its popular music programming. The Schaefers’ generosity will further enhance the arts at Appalachian by helping the university create a performance space worthy of the programming offered by series such as An Appalachian Summer Festival and the Performing Arts Series, as well as a multitude of university and community groups that present events in the venue every year.
The commitment from the Schaefers supports a major refurbishing of the auditorium, which addresses issues of safety, accessibility and enhancement of the performance experience.
Currently, work is progressing on the new wing connected to the lobby area, which will house an elevator to the balcony level, additional restrooms, office space and a concessions area. Another recently completed task is the re-sloping of the auditorium floor, which greatly improves sightlines and visibility of the stage from all seating areas on the orchestra level. Other improvements include a new acoustical and sound system, improved access to seats via two aisles intersecting the orchestra level seats, a mechanized orchestra pit, and cosmetic upgrades to the lobby and performance hall, among others.
“We love our community, we love the arts and we love the university. We deserve a performing arts center worthy of the quality of entertainment we have had in recent years … and we expect that with the new improvements, we will attract even bigger and better acts,” said Bonnie Schaefer, who serves on An Appalachian Summer Festival’s advisory board and who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the university last year.
When the Schaefers’ gift was announced in 2011, Jamie Schaefer noted, “It gives us great personal pleasure to support this program. If it brings everyone as much pleasure as it does us, it’s a win-win. We feel very honored to be the next generation to continue the legacy established by Arnold and Muriel Rosen and other founders of An Appalachian Summer Festival.”
Among the festival artists confirmed to perform in the Schaefer Center this summer are Boz Scaggs, Idina Menzel and the Eastern Festival Orchestra with pianist André Watts – with additional artists to be announced.
According to Susan Pettyjohn, vice chancellor for university advancement, the design team for the project has worked diligently to ensure that the project has remained on schedule, even through the winter months. The team consists of CJMW Architects, Steven Carter Price AIA, Rodgers Builders and the university’s Office of Design and Construction,
“We greatly appreciate their efforts, made possible by the extraordinary gift from the Schaefers, one of the largest single commitments ever made to Appalachian. We look forward to opening The Schaefer Center this summer, and to sharing this wonderful cultural resource with our campus community and the entire region,” Pettyjohn said.