BYU renovates old Provo High School for art programs moving out of the HFAC

One of the Provo High gyms is renovated to become a theatre. The transformation of this space is to help accommodate performing arts for the next three years. (Kelsey Mae Nield)

The BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications is renovating the old Provo High School building to accommodate BYU art students in Fall Semester 2022.

All art programs will be relocating to the BYU west campus in preparation for demolishing the Harris Fine Arts Center and the construction of the new art building. Although the construction won’t begin until early 2023, the arts programs have started vacating the building to prepare for a new space to meet all of the art program’s needs.

This relocation has raised some concerns for students. However, acting major Heather Schraedel is looking forward to the relocation.

“A lot of people are upset about relocating to Provo High and I understand why, but I am actually kind of looking forward to it,” Schraedel said.

Schraedel said her acting career began in high school so she is personally excited to be back in the space where she learned to act. She is excited to return to her roots.

BYU art programs such as photography, media arts, theatre, and design have specific needs for their education space to learn their skills. The old Provo High building purchased by BYU in 2016 doesn’t meet the needs necessary for the art programs.

Renovation of the west campus began earlier this year before the announcement of a new fine arts building. Faculty are hoping the renovations will be complete by the time fall semester comes around.

Some of these renovations include creating galleries for art students to display work, creating theatrical spaces, dark rooms, and design studios.

One of the gyms in the building has been transformed into a theatre which will seat up to 450 people. Although the building has an auditorium theatre, the features don’t meet a university-level performance space.

The high school’s auditorium theatre will be used as a place to screen films and a lecture space.

Another one of the gyms has been turned into a prop closet to store all kinds of props for theatre productions.

Dark rooms are being constructed in the previous kitchen space of the high school and the cafeteria has been transformed into a black box theatre. Rooms are being constructed to become design studios to display artwork.

One of the main concerns for students and faculty is travel for students to the west campus.

“I am mostly bothered about how far away it is,” Schraedel said.

According to Don Powell, assistant dean in the College of Fine Arts and Communications, the faculty is working to make this a good experience for students by helping accommodate the travel for students.

One of the official ways they will be helping is by making Y lot parking available at the west campus building

Some of the ways the renovations will accommodate students are the creation of lounge spaces in the building. According to Powell, they are also working on bringing food services down to the building so students don’t need to leave to get some food.

Although this whole transition is a difficult process, the College of Fine Arts and Communications is working to make it the best for its students.

“We’re doing everything we can to make it a good environment for the students and for their educational opportunities,” Powell said.

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