Polk State’s Fine Arts Building to get state-of-the-art modernization

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

The Arts at Polk State College are the best-kept secret in Polk County according to Program Manager Nancy Lozell. When renovations are completed on the 45-year-old Winter Haven Fine Arts Building (WFA), the community will have even more visual and performing arts to enjoy at the College.

The WFA building will close in May 2023. The plan is for the fully renovated building to be completed in 2024. As repairs begin, WFA will close areas in phases. Classes for the summer and fall semesters will be relocated. Lozell added that there could also be more appeal for prospective arts students.

“Our faculty and staff are very excited with the upcoming renovations,” Lozell said. “They continue to be involved in the entire process.”

Exterior improvements include a new roof and brick replacement on the building constructed in 1977.

“We should be gearing up to start right around spring break,” said Robbie Manikis, Polk State Manager for Planning and Construction. “This building is getting a much-needed facelift. This will enhance the programs for faculty, students and the community.”

Upgrades will be made to the band/music rooms, practice rooms, dressing areas, gallery, and many of the classrooms. The first improvement to take place will be the installation of a new heating and air conditioning system.

“One of the highlights will be a new sound system for the theatre,” Lozell explained. “Over the years, technology has improved immensely. The renovation will allow us to reimagine and redesign our audio and visual systems for future generations and enhance the theatre experience for students, faculty, and patrons.”

The gallery will be enlarged and a second entranceway will be added, providing access from both the lobby and the south entrance. This will improve the accessibility for our students and the community. Other notable improvements include a new fire sprinkler system and updates to the restrooms, including the addition of a family restroom in the lobby.

Enhancements will be made to the visual art classrooms. A protective overhead canopy will be installed in the ceramics area to make it more user-friendly. Improvements in the art wing also include new plumbing and ventilation.

The upcoming renovations will allow The Arts at Polk State to expand the quality of programming and to keep up with the growing technology needs of students, faculty, and performers.

The initial budget for the project was $16.2 million. In addition, a $172,000 Capital Improvement Grant from Polk Tourism & Sports Marketing will allow for a sound system to be added in the gallery and feed into the lobby area. Digital signage will also be added in the lobby area.

The Polk Tourism & Sports Marketing Grant will fund a projection system. The new projection system will allow The Arts at Polk State to heighten the quality of entertainment provided to our theatre goers by adding another dimension to the cultural programming. Many artists are including multimedia in their performances.

“I’m so excited for our students, faculty, and community,” Lozell said. “Our No. 1 goal is to provide our patrons with an unforgettable cultural experience. The Winter Haven Fine Arts Theatre is the primary venue for all arts events at Polk State College. It provides a multicultural, inclusive, and innovative mix of arts and cultural programming that reflect and celebrate the diversity of our students.”

The Winter Haven Fine Arts Theatre serves as a performing arts instructional facility and is dedicated to bringing world class performers to its stage. The outreach program has provided Polk State students with educational master classes and opportunities to perform with professional artists from around the world.

Other notable projects in the works

During the 2022 Legislative Session, Polk State was allocated $53.1 million with $13.8 million to begin the development of the Polk State Haines City Campus. Last month, Polk State’s District Board of Directors selected Tampa-based AD Morgan as the construction manager for the project.

Manikis noted that the project is in the “programming stage.” The College is currently gathering data from the different departments, primarily the health sciences, to see what is needed for the new facility.

The College was also allocated $16.7 million for renovations to the WSC building on the Winter Haven Campus. Requests for qualifications for an architect and construction manager are currently out, Manikis said. The building houses all the laboratory spaces for science courses, and as such, serves all students pursuing workforce degrees that require a lab science at the College.

Included in the $53.1 million was $10.1 million for deferred maintenance across all campuses. Manikis noted that there is a laundry list of items that will be funded through the allocation.

Some items, such as industrial chillers at Polk State’s JD Alexander and Clear Spring Advanced Technology Centers, have already been purchased. Proposals are still being made for other items.