UNM Fine Arts College demands millions for new facility

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) — The University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts is requesting more than $40 million for a new facility. The arts center was built in 1963 and in 2022 the Center is showing its age.

During a tour of the building, our cameras captured missing ceiling tiles, cracked floors and a leaky roof. “I would say I have two million reasons why we need new facilities,” said Harris Smith, dean of the College of Fine Arts. In addition to these glaring problems, Dean Smith says they have outgrown their current space.

“When they were built, it was for a smaller number of students,” Smith explained. There are currently around 1,300 students enrolled at the College of Fine Arts, but Dean Smith says they serve many more. “We serve approximately 30,000 credit hours to students across the University of New Mexico,” he said.

That’s why they’re asking voters to approve $45 million, which will be part of a GO bond package for higher education in the next election. “We need to make sure our facilities support these students,” Smith said.

Dean Smith says if approved, it will ensure a top-notch education for his students, help with recruiting and bring new life to Albuquerque. “We hope to make this an arts district,” Smith said. “It will bring a lot more foot traffic along Central,” Smith explained.

Currently, the arts and culture sector brings billions of dollars to the state every year. Smith says a venue like the one they’re planning could make it even more profitable, but it’s not just about the money.

“Doctors save lives and artists give people a reason to live,” Smith said. “You can’t underestimate the power that art has over the human condition,” he said.

If approved, the new facility would be completed in phases. They expect the building to be completed by 2026.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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