To fully fund the redevelopment of the URI Fine Arts Center

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Dear Chairman Abney and RI State leaders,

We write to request revisions to the FY 2019 Rhode Island Capital Plan (RICAP) to fully fund the redevelopment of the University of Rhode Island Fine Arts Center. As you are aware, this ten-pod complex is in need of significant rehabilitation and reconstruction. Its location is immediately across the street from the College of Engineering complex that is slated to be complete in the fall of 2019 and will be one of the finest engineering facilities in the country. 

In order to recruit talented students and creative faculty, the Fine Arts Center should reflect the vibrant arts community that is a proud part of Rhode Island’s cultural heritage. The Center is an important community asset and hosts more than 50,000 visitors annually for exhibits and performances. We request $13.2 million in RICAP funds for FY 2019 to begin the rehabilitation of this important asset. There is a four-year RICAP request that would provide the remaining funds necessary to complete the reconstruction of the Center and would save the state more than $35 million in interest by avoiding borrowing.

On a pragmatic level, a renovated Fine Arts Center is a matter of health, safety, and productivity. The building is not secure and each winter brings a new ordeal of widespread leaks and gaseous fumes from the old heating unit. These problems threaten expensive equipment and art, and disrupt classes and fine arts performances. 

Fundamentally speaking, newer facilities are essential to exploring arts and design in the 21st Century, keeping our faculty and students at the forefront of creative advancements in the field, and to nurture a vibrant creative community across the state. A modern Fine Arts Center will promote innovative interdisciplinary exploration with programing that inspires and networks with the people of South County and Rhode Island, as a whole. 

Thank you for considering this request and its value to the university and all the people of Rhode Island.