Summertime busy time at MSA

Published 8:00 pm Friday, June 1, 2012

The Mississippi School of the Arts will be free of students this summer, but not free from activity.

     School leaders are preparing to concentrate on a series of renovations projects through the summer months, with some about to begin, some nearing completion, and others somewhere in the middle.

     A major project to alleviate leaking problems in the Student Life Center should begin in June, maybe in the second or third week, said MSA Executive Director Suzanne Hirsch.

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     Skylights in the roof will be removed and the western wall be fully sealed by steel panels, both aimed to alleviate persistent leaking problems.

     As she watches that project get under way, Hirsch is preparing for another to finish. Hirsch expects to have partial access to Enochs Hall by July 1, with the entire building available by August.

     The completion of Enochs will bring a black box theater to the MSA campus, something Hirsch believes will be a strong asset for the drama department.

     “This will allow us to do true magic in our performances,” Hirsch said.

     Right now, drama productions take place in Lampton Auditorium, but true theatrical lighting can’t be done in Lampton because of its windows.

     “You can’t go black,” Hirsch said. “The new theater will enable drama to do true performances.

     Lampton will still see plenty of activity, though.

     “We’ll still use Lampton, but it will be for music-related performances,” Hirsch said.

     The Enochs black box theater will seat about 120. A classroom, an art gallery, additional storage space and a sculpture shop will also be housed in the building.

     Enochs Hall should become a familiar sight to members of the community.

     “It will be the most publicly used besides Lampton,” Hirsch said.

     Located next to Enochs, the exterior of Elizabeth Cottage is almost done, but completion of the building’s interior remains in the future.

     “We are holding on the interior work for Elizabeth until next fiscal year, because the state has to pay to finish Enochs,” Hirsch said.

     Once the interior work does begin, it’s expected to be relatively brief.

     “That should be a quick turnaround,” Hirsch said.

     Plans call for some literary arts classes to be held on the first floor.

     “I think it lends itself so well to writers,” Hirsch said.

     The second floor of Elizabeth Cottage will provide living space for guest artists.

     When work begins this summer on the renovations to the Student Life Center, it will be a little later than expected. The project was originally slated to begin in January or February, but fell several months behind schedule.

     When the Student Life Center, which houses student living quarters, was originally constructed, a second tower was meant to be built adjacent to it. The western wall was therefore never completely weatherproofed as it was intended to abut a second building.

     The repairs to the Student Life Center should cost about $500,000 and will be paid for by the state’s Bureau of Building and Grounds.

     Joel Smith Construction has received the project bid, but MSA leaders did not have access to the amount of the bid.

     The project is supposed to be completed in 90 days, but weather and other unexpected delays are always possible.

     “We’re hoping to get done by December,” Hirsch said.