HBU Cultural Arts Center Nearly Complete

A new $28 million cultural arts center at Houston Baptist University will mean a new venue for concerts and other entertainment on the city's southwest side. As Jack Williams reports, the center is nearly complete and will soon be the newest player on the city's arts scene.

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Joella and Stewart Morris Cultural Arts Center is a first for the university, which first opened its doors in 1963. With around 90,000 square feet, the complex will host events in several venues all under one roof. HBU President Dr. Robert Sloan says the center fills a need.

"We have a 1,200 seat theater and we'll be able to have concerts, plays, dramas, activities so that people who are involved in the arts in Houston who need that size of a facility will be able to book it and use it. And then there's also a 400 seat facility for smaller concerts, recitals, weddings, a chapel and so on. This is something that will not only enhance the life of the university, but also the entire city."

The complex was made possible in part because of a generous donation from Joella and Stewart Morris.ξ Joella Morris says it's an honor to be a part of a project that raises cultural arts awareness in Houston.

"We hope that it will be used for a lot of different things, concerts, art shows and museum shows. I just talked to a girl who teaches piano here and she's looking forward to a concert here."

Stewart Morris, who was one of HBU's founding fathers, says the cultural arts center could be a cornerstone for a growing university.

"This provides a facility, a unique facility. This university is in its infancy. You're only 40 years old and you stand it alongside these only institutions, just give it time."

So far, around $24 million has been raised for the facility, which is expected to be complete in early June, with a dedication and grand opening set for October. HBU's vice president for academic affairs Don Looser says the center is in a great location.

"Studies that we've done show that we're right in the middle of the cultural ticket-buying public. We're right here on the Southwest Freeway. We think this is going to be a convenient venue. Our campus is viewed as a safe place to be. We have strong Christian commitment to family values and that's the kind of entertainment that we want to provide here. We think there's a niche for us."

You can find out more about the Morris Cultural Arts Center and Belin Chapel through a link on our website, KUHF.org.

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