ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts is asking for more than $40-Million for a new facility. The arts center was built in 1963 and in 2022, the Center is showing its age.
On a tour of the building, our cameras caught 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, the Dean of the College of Fine Arts. On top of those glaring problems, Dean Smith says they’ve outgrown their current space.
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“When they were built, it was for a smaller student body,” Smith explained. There are currently about 13-hundred students enrolled in the College of Fine Arts, but Dean Smith says they serve a lot more. “We serve about 30-thousand credit hours for students across the whole University of New Mexico,” he said.
That’s why they’re asking for voters to approve $45-Million, which will be part of a G.O. Bond package for Higher Education on the ballot in the upcoming election. “We need to make sure our facilities are supporting those students,” said Smith.
Dean Smith says if it’s approved, it will guarantee a top-notch education for their students, help with recruiting and bring a new life to Albuquerque. “We’re hoping to make it an arts district,” said Smith. “It will bring a lot more foot traffic along Central,” Smith explained.
Right now the Arts and Culture sector brings in billions of dollars to the State each year. Smith says a venue like the one they’re planning, could make it even more profitable, but it’s not all about the money.
“Doctors save lives, and artists give people a reason to live,” said Smith. “You can’t underestimate the power that art has on the human condition,” he said.
If approved, the new facility would be completed in phases. They expect the building to be finished by 2026.