The first piece in the Master Plan puzzle would be funding of the Ray Charles Fine Arts Center. The $1.8 million funding for planning and site work at the center, which has been discussed since 2000, was taken out of this year's budget by the state House.
Dr. Leroy Bynum, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, said the current design for the Charles Fine Arts Center would omit the planned 600-seat performing hall theater due to cost constraints. The 104,411-gross-square-foot building would house the mass communications, art and music departments, as well as office support and general instruction areas. The building is projected to cost $25 million-$30 million.
The theater venue has a 30,056-gross-square-foot requirement and a $15 million price tag. The need for the theater came into question when the department had only 20 "existing" theater majors. That number is projected to be 40 by 2018. For comparison's sake, mass communications has 125 existing majors and 150 projected; music has 75 existing majors and 100 projected; and art has 30 existing majors and 60 projected.
As a result of leaving the performing hall out of the proposed Charles center, Albany State's fine arts department would continue to use the city's Albany Municipal Auditorium, Bynum said.
The Ray Charles Fine Arts Center would be located in the now vacant grassy area behind the university's ACAD Building on the upper campus. This move would trigger the start of the university's plans to move all its academic buildings to the upper campus in the future. To do this, the school would retire all the academic, housing and other buildings currently in the flood plain: Holley (Fine Arts) Hall, Peace (Business) Hall, Hartnett and Simmons classrooms, Andrews, Gibson and Wiley dormitories, plant operations and the Reese Student Union.