‘A new era for the arts’: A look into BYU’s new west campus

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After renovations ended at old Provo High School this summer, The College of Fine Arts and Communications is using the campus as a rest stop on their way to a new arts building.

BYU’s West Campus has been in the works since 2018, when BYU bought the high school. Fine arts faculty involved in the renovations said what has happened at the old high school is nothing short of a miracle.

“Just little miracles of finding these spaces that nobody thought would work,” Assistant Dean Don Powell said. “And then they turned into working fabulously.”

Many spaces have been completely turned around to accommodate BYU theatre and arts students: the kitchen is now a photography darkroom, a weight room is an art gallery and the gymnasium became a main stage.  

At BYU’s new West Campus Central Building, the old high school weight room is now an art gallery. Many rooms have been repurposed to accommodate BYU theatre and arts students in the former Provo High School. (Abigail Gunderson)

Though the new accommodations are a bit different, Associate Dean Rory Scanlon said the students and faculty are taking the renovations in stride.  

“Because it’s art and design and theater and media arts, they’ve all been excited to try it out because they like to work in a new area and and try something brand new and something very different,” Scanlon said.

Scanlon said any growing pains will be well worth it once they are in the newer and larger buildings. The larger student body has outgrown many of the facilities in the HFAC, which is more than 50 years old.

Since the high school only a temporary spot, Powell said budget decisions had to strike the balance between utility and longevity.

“We want to make sure that this was fully operational for our college without putting too much money into it,” he said. “That would just be wasted when we leave from here.”

Fine arts students and faculty will have to wait around three years for everything to be complete, but by the sound of it, a little creative adjustment in the meantime won’t be a problem. According to Scanlon, the expansion marks a turning point for BYU’s artists.

“We’re looking at a whole new era for the arts at BYU, and we’re pleased that the the university and the church decided to fund that,” he said.

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