University News

Center for Performing Arts Construction Funding Released, Construction Underway

October 7, 2022

Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL – A formal groundbreaking was held today (Oct. 7), with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other leaders, for the state-funded Center for Performing Arts (CPA) on the Western Illinois University-Macomb campus. River City Construction, LLC, of Peoria, IL, has been selected as the general contractor. Construction began Sept. 1.

The project is part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan. The Capital Development Board will oversee the project's design and construction in accordance with the protocol for state-appropriated projects.

"Our Rebuild Illinois capital plan isn't just about our roads and bridges, it's about our universities too," said Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who was on the Macomb campus today to celebrate the CPA groundbreaking. "After nearly 50 years, I am thrilled that Western Illinois University will receive state funding for the construction of the Center for Performing Arts. This will not only provide WIU students with a state-of-the-art performance facility, but also give our western Illinois communities a place to gather and enjoy all that the arts have to offer."

The 100,000-square-foot building will include classrooms, offices, practice rooms, studios and performance spaces. The Great Hall, a 900-seat Proscenium Theatre, will provide an ultramodern performance space for music, theatre and dance productions as well as regional and national touring performances, while the smaller Black Box theatre will provide a more intimate space for campus productions.

"We appreciate Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Dep. Gov. for Education Martin Torres, the General Assembly and the Capital Development Board for continuing to move forward on this much-anticipated, iconic Center for Performing Arts," said WIU President Guiyou Huang. "We look forward to watching the building construction progress and anxiously await the day we can celebrate the grand opening. The Center for Performing Arts will enhance Western's academic distinction and provide our region with contemporary music, dance, and theatre facilities. This is a true investment for WIU and west-central Illinois. Once again, we extend our gratitude to the Governor, our legislators, the CDB, businesses, alumni, friends and donors for their dedication to this project."

The CPA, the first state-funded building for WIU since the 1970s, will allow the College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) to consolidate into a more centralized location and provide academic and performance opportunities that rival the excellence of Western's programs, noted COFAC Dean Billy Clow.

"The Illinois Capital Development Board is eager to begin a partnership with Western Illinois University on this robust performing arts facility," said Capital Development Board Executive Director Jim Underwood. "The new facility will provide economic opportunities for west central Illinois and an elevated learning experience at one of Illinois' premier public universities."

To make up for the increased construction costs, which recently came in at $110 million, the CDB, working with Western, has agreed to leverage some funding from another project on WIU's priority request list. The CPA has been the number one priority on the Western's capital development list since 2006 and has been in some form of planning and/or discussion since December 1972. WIU administration will continue to work with state leaders to ensure future capital-funded projects move forward.

"The Center for Performing Arts will cement the foundation of excellence that is performing arts at Western Illinois University. When the center is complete, WIU will be THE destination for arts and culture in our region and beyond," College of Fine Arts and Communication Dean Billy Clow added. "So many people have put their hearts and souls into this dream over the years, and the sight of bulldozers finally makes this dream a reality. From our current students to scores of future Leathernecks, this center will be the cornerstone of an outstanding educational experience at WIU."

Cannon Design, Inc. is the architect-of-record overseeing construction, while Pelli Clarke Pelli is the architectural design firm. The building is expected to be completed by Fall 2024.

"As a central Illinois based contractor, River City Construction (RCC) is thrilled to have been selected to build the new Center for Performing Arts at Western Illinois University. The project is an extension of our longstanding relationship in support of the State of Illinois and the Capital Development Board," said Andrew Cook, RCC construction director. "Construction of this state-of-the art facility will have a significant economic impact on our region, and once complete will serve as a regional destination for the performing arts. Construction of such a facility is truly a team effort, and on behalf of our subcontractor and vendor partners, and our skilled labor force, we are excited to get to work with the CDB, Western Illinois University and the Cannon Design team to turn blueprints into reality."

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing