On a sunny day in October 2021, the usual quiet shuffling and murmuring of students and visitors admiring art at the Center for Creative Photography was interrupted by the sounds of construction.

Workers had come to haul steel and fiberglass panels for the center’s new, more inviting facade — just one element in renovations planned for the Arizona Arts District, located near Speedway Boulevard and Olive Road. 

Phase One of the Arizona Arts master plan calls for renovation of the buildings that house the School of Art and the School of Theatre, Film & Television. Noticeable changes include the facade at the CCP and improvements to the patron experience at the Marroney Theatre, home of the Arizona Repertory Theatre and the Next Performance Collective. 

>> Arizona Arts: Elevating the Arts

Arts Gateway, view of reimagined Arts Oasis

The cornerstone of the master plan and Phase One is a renovation of the Arts Oasis, the outdoor courtyard in the center of the Arts District. The vision includes a large canopy and newly designed, sustainable space for students and community members to enjoy. 

In the near future, changes will begin at the University of Arizona Museum of Art and Centennial Hall. The planned projects are about more than saving historic buildings. They are part of the university’s strategic plan, which calls for infusing the arts into all aspects of the university and investing in the arts as a gateway to the university.

“Our overarching goal is to make the University of Arizona an arts destination for the benefit of our students and the communities of southern Arizona.”

— Andrew Schulz, vice president for the arts

The strategic plan “elevates the arts as central to the UArizona experience in all kinds of ways, in the classroom and campus-wide,” says Andy Schulz, vice president for the arts and dean of the College of Fine Arts. It includes not only ways to connect students to the arts — from music to dance to theater to visual art — but also the local community.

And, Schulz notes, it includes the needs of the aging buildings, which had not been updated for many years. The renovations and upgrades have happened thanks to gifts from donors and friends of the arts.

“I am so excited to see Phase One of the Arts master plan underway,” says University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “The University of Arizona has an incredible variety of the arts and cultural offerings available, and this construction is the first step to advancing creativity-based education, innovative research and community engagement.” 

Originally published in the Winter 2022 Arizona Alumni magazine.
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Arts Gateway, reimagined lobby of Marroney Theatre