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Devasthalis pledge $500,000 to the NMSU Center for the Arts

The long-dreamed-of Center for the Arts at New Mexico State University is moving forward thanks to the tireless dedication of community volunteer Ammu Devasthali, who has dedicated many hours to the project and, along with her husband, Rama, has pledged $500,000 toward the building of the center's first phase.



Rama and Ammu Devasthali stand on the New Mexico State University campus at the corner of University Avenue and Espina Street, the site for the planned Center for the Arts. The Devasthalis have pledged $500,000 toward the building of the center's first phase.(NMSU photo by Robert Yee)

"It excites us to be part of getting this built for our community. There is an abundance of talent in southern New Mexico and we need a venue to showcase it," Ammu said. "All of us have been influenced by the arts at some point. It is food for the soul, and having a venue for the arts is what distinguishes communities on the move."

The Devasthalis have lived and worked in Las Cruces for 22 years. Ammu, who has a master's degree in printmaking and a Master of Fine Arts in painting, both from NMSU, is an artist and has a local studio, Art Ventures. Rama, a physician, is president of the Imaging Center of Las Cruces Radiology Associates.

"This community received us warmly and has given us the support to build our lives and businesses, amplifying our ability to give back," Rama said. "This is not just for NMSU, but for all of southern New Mexico."

Ammu said the Center for the Arts will be especially important for the youth in southern New Mexico and the entire border region.

"The center will provide so many opportunities for young people from surrounding communities to experience art like never before," she said. "Art is uplifting for everyone, especially during hard times. It does so much for the human psyche."

The next opportunity to learn more about the Center for the Arts will be at a Rally 'Round the Arts event from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Local artists, dancers, musicians and other performers will entertain the crowd at the corner of University Avenue and Espina Street, the planned site for the new center. University corridor restaurants also will be on hand to tempt taste buds with samples from their establishments.

The Center for the Arts will gather NMSU's scattered arts programs in one central location, encouraging more collaborative activity and providing the community easier accessibility to the many creative endeavors on campus. The facility also will dramatically change the look of University Avenue. Its development has been planned in collaboration with each involved department and the community.

Construction on Phase I will begin in 2010. Phase I includes a 500-seat Dance and Theatre Arts Performance Hall, classrooms and rehearsal space, state-of-the-art sound and lighting technology, fly space and an orchestra pit.

For more information on the Rally 'Round the Arts, call (575) 646-2008. For more information on the Center for the Arts, visit http://artscenter.nmsu.edu/index.php.