Krannert makes changes for accessibility

The+entrance+to+the+Krannert+Center+for+the+Performing+Arts+on+March+13%2C+2019.+

Mark Capapas

The entrance to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on March 13, 2019.

By Vivian La

Major accessibility upgrades are underway at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and will be complete by the end of the fall semester.

Originally slated to be complete by summer 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity for the facilities and services crew to work with minimal disruption.

“We’re very, very grateful that campus was willing to allow us to continue this project despite the financial challenges on campus,” Cindi Howard, associate director for finance and operations, said.

All the contractors working on site are required to comply with campus and building policies for COVID-19. They must maintain social distance and wear face coverings, Howard said.

According to a press release from Krannert on Sept. 30, most of the changes are being made to the Foellinger Great Hall, the parking lot and the Tryon Festival Theatre. 

These include the removal of walls to add accessible seating, the widening of entrances, wheelchair-accessible ramps and removal of carpets.

The public restrooms in the lower foyer will also be upgraded to fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards, as stated in the press release.

Also undergoing changes is the Colwell Playhouse, which is still in the planning phase. Howard said that this particular theater has been a challenge for a long time.

“There’s no easy way to add accessible seating at all, and we desperately need it,” she said. “We’re actually working through some different plans that could include adding an elevator … it’s the first viable option we’ve been presented with.”

The current renovation projects have a budget of $500,000, which was provided by the Office of the Provost. The Colwell Playhouse project does not have a total budget yet.

Accessibility upgrades for the center have been in discussion for years and the proposal for renovations was approved in 2018.

“It really shows how much [the school values] inclusivity and making the University as a whole a place that has access for all, and we truly appreciate that,” Howard said.

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