New Belcher Center Opens Its Doors - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/19/07-Longview

New Belcher Center Opens Its Doors

It's state of the art, one of a kind, and brand new and Thursday it opened its doors for the public to see.  More than a thousand people attended the official dedication of the S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center on the campus of LeTourneau University.  

An orchestra played before the dedication ceremony; the first sound of music inside the new S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center.  It's a sound theatre-goers will get used to. That's because the Longview Symphony, Ballet, and Opera all plan on performing in the new 2,000-seat facility.

"Since the 1970s, we've been holding of all our worship and entertainment and cultural events in an old metal building, it's kept the rain off, but that's all it's done and this new S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center will allow us to be in a state of the art facility that will enrich our worship, enrich our culture and entertainment," says President Dr. Alvin O. Austin.

Traveling plays and musicals will also make a stop here, but the University is being careful. They want to select only family-oriented acts.   

"Things that we can all be proud of, I think 'Annie' is already scheduled to be one of the events for the year," says Dr. Austin.

The huge 3-story, 20-million-dollar structure not only means big things for the University, but it means big things for the Longview community as well.

"A community rich in supporting the arts financially do bring in better opportunities for businesses, for new individuals to be here that appreciate culture and understanding what can life mean," says Vickie Echols with the East Texas Arts Council.

So the bottom line, city officials say the new center ups the quality of life in Longview, bringing with it businesses, tourists and more people who want to make the city home.

University officials say the Belcher Center is about 95 percent complete, it just needs a few more touch-ups, but they are having a dedicatory performance tonight that's already sold out. The official season starts in September.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com

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