By Ethan Woodhouse
June 18, 2012. Appalachian State University’s Farthing Auditorium is set to begin a year-long renovation at the conclusion of this year’s summer concert series.
The renovation was made possible by a $7 commitment donation by Bonnie and Jamie Schaffer, owners of Westglow Resort & Spa in Blowing Rock. The Blowing Rock and Boca Raton, Fla. residents will have the building renamed in their honor, as The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts.
“I think for a number of years we’ve been aware of needs in the building that need to be addressed,” Director of the Office of Arts and Cultural Programs Denise Ringler said. “But just in recent years it has become a reality.”
The renovation will see the addition of two aisles and the removal of some of the auditorium’s 1,734 seats. “Some seats will be lost, but not many,” Ringler said.
The additional aisles and installation of an elevator aims to improve accessibility for audience members.
Renovations are set to begin July 28, at the conclusion of An Appalachian Summer Festival’s 2012 season. Completion is scheduled for June 2013, in time for 2013’s installment of the festival.
Theatrical and musical events throughout the school year will be moved to other venues around campus, like the Valborg Theatre, Rosen Concert Hall and Holmes Center.
The Schaefer’s originally pledged $4 million to Farthing as a part of ASU’s $200 million “Campaign for Appalachian: Making a difference in the world… one student at a time.” The increase came as a pleasant surprise to ASU.
The $7 million donation is one of the largest single gifts ever received by ASU, according to a press release. ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock and Vice Chancellor for University Advancement publicly thanked the Schaefers at the ASU Board of Trustees meeting, June 15.
“We love our community, we love the arts and we love the university,” said Bonnie Schaefer who serves on An Appalachian Summer Festival’s advisory board and who recently was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the university.
Her partner, Jamie Schaefer, said, “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.”
In addition to their longtime support of the arts, the Schaefers have also supported the university’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies and the Leon Levine Distinguished Professorship.
An exhibit in Farthing’s lobby features a preview of the planned renovations that will compromise the project.