Officials break ground on new arts center in Cedar City

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CEDAR CITY, Utah – Organizers of the Tony award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival broke ground on a new theater Thursday, but more than that, they’re calling it a center for the arts.

The Beverly Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts will consist of three different buildings, primarily an new Shakespeare Theatre to house the annual Shakespeare festival. There will also be a 3,500 square foot Southern Utah Museum of Art. Directors hope it will become an arts Mecca.

“This is going to be the destination in this entire broader region, for arts,” SUU president Scott Wyatt said. “Performance, for studying, for museums, It’s going to change the landscape of Southern Utah.”

Utah Shakespeare Festival Founder Fred Adams told attendees at the groundbreaking ceremony that they’ve been dreaming of the center for close to 50 years. Over a hundred people gathered to watch the first step toward making that dream a reality.

“I can promise you, the art that we create on this stage, will elevate you,” Festival Executive Director R. Scott Philips said. “It will enrich you, and this will become a grand gathering place.”

Organizers raised over $35 million for the new center, a collaboration of state, federal and private funds. Wyatt said it truly is a gift back to the community, a community that has continually supported the arts.

“For those who have been to performances in the past, when this theater is done, it is going to be stunning, “ Wyatt said. “What an improvement this will make."

Actual construction won’t begin for a couple of months. The center for the arts is expected to be complete in 2016.