Do you hear the beat – the one coming from the stately building standing on the east side of MNU? It’s the beat of the arts, and the building is Bell Cultural Events Center.
The Bell Cultural Events Center was conceived as a dream – to have a beautiful, usable and flexible Fine Arts academic building and cultural center with a state-of-the-art performing arts hall – a dream that took some 20 years to fulfill.
When MNU first opened its doors in 1968, the Fine Arts Division set up “temporary” residence in Dobson Hall – the building directly to the east of Bell Center. Built to be used for office and classroom space – not for practice rooms, a choir and a band, it quickly became evident that no one practiced “alone” since everyone in the building could hear everyone else.
When Dr. Dennis Crocker became division chair in 1986, he began dreaming of the day when MNU would be known not only for its musicians but for its fine arts facility. Dr. Crocker believed there are no academic disciplines more impacted by a facility than music and theatre. The dream came to fruition after years of planning and many generous financial contributions with the official opening of Bell Cultural Events Center in August of 2007. It serves both the musicians and thespians of the University with excellence.
The 40,000 square foot building was designed by a talented architectural team from Hollis & Miller. The acoustical engineer was Joseph Myers of Kirkegaard and Associates. The audio and visual state-of-the-art technology was designed and installed by Premier Studios. The EBCO Construction Group made sure that all the designs and drawings and engineering details were put in the proper places. This attention to detail resulted in a building that has been called an “instrument.”
In the Grand Lobby is a commissioned painting, “To His Praise,” by Ann Williams. This piece complements the four verses of the Charles Wesley hymn, “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” that encircles the lobby.
The Bell Cultural Events Center is a busy complex, hosting over 320 events representing more than 70,000 guests throughout the year, not including regular classes. It serves not only the University community but the Kansas City metro communities as well.
The dream has come true. And the beat goes on!