Groundbreaking set for new district performing arts center

WEST COLUMBIA, SC -- Lexington Two will break ground on a new performing arts center and district office in December, following the board’s final approval of plans earlier this month.


The center, the final piece of the district’s $225 million bond referendum approved by voters in 2014, will be on district-owned property at 3211 Platt Springs Road in Springdale. It had originally been slated for Saxe Gotha Road in Cayce but was shifted in favor of a more centralized location for all five communities the district serves.


Groundbreaking is set for December 7.  Construction is estimated to take about two years to complete.


“We are so excited to announce the groundbreaking for the performing arts center,” said Board Chair Christina Rucker.  “This facility will be located in the heart of our school district and will provide endless opportunities for our students and for the community.”


The center will offer the district a large, state-of-the-art venue and full working stage for performances, special events, and district-wide occasions, something many schools do not have. The center will include a two-level balcony with seating for 1,550, as well as four meeting and event breakout spaces, two of which hold up to 300 people.   Upgraded systems in stage lighting and sound, along with dressing rooms, set storage and backstage areas, will ensure that the center is outfitted for a range of opportunities in dance, music, theater and more. 


"This project is symbolic of the transition from the district's referendum period toward future opportunities for our students, employees, and communities,” said Lexington Two Superintendent Dr. Nicolas Wade.  “This facility, I believe, firmly states we are a district that is central, innovative, and attractive.  I am excited about the work that has been done and is currently being worked on to ensure this is a place that creates and supports champions."


The primary mission for the center -- which represents Lexington Two’s commitment to the importance of fine arts in education -- is its use by district students, schools and employees. The vision for the center also includes use for professional development and planning, statewide conferences, conventions, and student competitions, as well as community and cultural events, as space is available.


“The most important benefit of this center is the opportunity that it provides our students to perform in such an amazing space,” said Jim LeBlanc, principal at Lexington Two’s Saluda River Academy for the Arts.  “But this is so much more than just a building for these students to perform in. Students can learn the behind-the-scenes roles and jobs that are necessary for performances, as well as receive first-hand exposure to professionals in the industry who will be drawn to utilize a venue this nice.  Our students will have a state-of-the-art facility to showcase their many talents across all arts areas.”


The board, which gave final approval to the project at its November 18 meeting, is expected to decide on a name for the center in coming weeks. A stakeholder committee has offered three recommendations: Lexington Two Visual and Performing Arts Center (Lex2 V-PAC), Metropolitan Arts Center of Lexington Two (MAC of Lex2) and Midlands Arts Center of Lexington Two (MAC of Lex2).


The district office will move into the center, a measure that will allow the space to be continuously occupied. The estimated cost for the project is $52 million.


"I am looking forward to what our direction and renewed commitment to the fine arts will look like, as later this school year we will embark upon a working committee to assess current needs, determine the needs and interests of our students, and shape our future direction," Dr. Wade said.