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Community leaders seeking to raise $75 million for NMSU Center for the Arts

A committee of community leaders interested in improving the arts in the area announced last night (Oct. 25) that they are launching a campaign to raise $75 million for the Center for the Arts at New Mexico State University.

The announcement was made at a reception following the premiere of a new musical, "Extinction: A Love Story," written by Bob Diven and produced by Mark Medoff, artistic director of NMSU's Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts (CMI). Medoff, a Tony Award-winning playwright and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, and his wife Stephanie have agreed to co-chair the leadership committee to raise the capital funds needed for the new center.

The Center for the Arts is the largest capital project of NMSU's comprehensive "Doing What Counts" campaign publicly launched in 2005. The center will combine theater, music, dance, visual and performing arts.

"We wanted to give back to the university and the Las Cruces community that has always been supportive of my work," Medoff said. "This is something the university has needed for at least a decade, if not longer. Stephanie and I consider this a worthy effort."

Medoff said the growth of the university's programs has surpassed the facilities.

"We really do not have the space to match the programs we have in place or the growth of this whole area," he said. "To the members of the leadership committee this is a project for our students, our children and our community."

"The proposed center is a great opportunity for the university to provide a doorway through which to invite the community to the campus," said Ammu Devasthali, a member of the center's leadership committee. "The community in turn has the opportunity to participate in a project that can potentially become one of the biggest attractions this city can offer, providing a wonderful way to promote the arts throughout southern New Mexico."

"It will take the entire community to make this project a reality," added Sally Cutter, another committee member.

Waded Cruzado-Salas, NMSU's executive vice president and provost, calls the center "a transformational project that will enrich NMSU, Las Cruces and the state of New Mexico."

"The center will provide an open, accessible environment where students, faculty, staff and community members can enjoy different expressions and stages of the creative process every day," she said. "This project has the potential to leave a distinctive mark in the history and the quality of life of our region."

"At a place like NMSU if we want to be all we can be we have to work together," said President Mike Martin. "The Center for the Arts is a major commitment by the university, both physically and symbolically, to reach out to the people we serve."

The reception launch included the viewing of a four-minute infomercial commissioned by the College of Arts and Sciences and produced by Medoff that will be used as a means of informing people about the project.

The 2007 State Legislature gave $480,000 to NMSU to help pay for the design of the center.The first phase of the project is expected to cost about $37.5 million.

For more information, call (575) 646-3587.