The 450-seat, $15 million Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts, the last piece in Butler’s performing-arts complex, opened April 18, providing students and faculty with “a full-sized laboratory” in which to participate and experience the arts.
“This building was built first and foremost for the students,” Schrott ’76, whose significant donation made the performance hall possible, said at the late afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is going to be a place where arts students and faculty can take advantage of this full-sized laboratory—because after all, what we’re sitting in here is just a great big classroom—and it’s also for all Butler students and the Butler community to experience the arts.”
Discussion of a theater like the Schrott goes back 40 years, to when Schrott was a freshman majoring in radio and television. President Jim Danko said the University needed a building that would provide more performance options for students, guest artists, and community groups.
The Schrott Center, which supplements neighboring 2,100-seat Clowes Memorial Hall, the 140-seat Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall, and the Allen Whitehill Clowes Pavilion of Lilly Hall, was the missing part of the Butler arts complex, Danko said.
“Howard’s generosity, his desire to give back and his passion for the arts makes him a leader among Butler alumni,” Danko said. “We appreciate all that he has done for our students and the campus community.”
For its first 10 days, the Schrott Center will be home to the inaugural Butler ArtsFest. More information is at butlerartsfest.com.
Kevin Vogel, a senior who spoke on behalf of all Jordan College of the Arts students, said every department in the Jordan College of the Arts (JCA) will benefit from the Schrott Center. Theater students will be able to perform for larger audiences, in a proscenium theater. While mainstage ballets will continue to be presented at Clowes Hall, dance students will be able to showcase their individual performances and choreography on the Schrott stage.
The adjustable acoustics can be tailored for our musicians so our music ensembles can maximize their presence and tone, Vogel said. Students studying art and design will have the opportunity to exhibit their art in the facility, and arts administration students will be able to learn firsthand the ins and outs of managing an artistic venue.
The Schrott “will open doors for the Jordan College to expand its programming and curriculum,” Vogel said. “The future is full of the possibilities for expansion both broad and deep, and that future begins today.”
Ron Caltabiano, dean of the Jordan College of the Arts, said the Schrott Center will allow learning and performances to rise to new levels. “The center provides a rich environment in which JCA faculty can engage in research, scholarship and creative activities that will enhance teaching and student engagement.”
Craig Fenneman, chair of the Board of Trustees, described the Schrott Center as “a beautiful building that will fill a longtime need for the university.” Schrott said he’d like to see the performance hall that bears his name keep students and audiences entertained, enlightened, and informed, and he hopes what students do there will inspire them to go on and have a professional career in the arts.
“As Butler’s national reputation has grown, I think the world has begun to understand what we in the Butler community have known all along: That this is, in fact, a very special place,” said Schrott, who spent most of his career as chief financial officer for large media companies. “It’s a place to learn, to grow, to make lifelong connections, and it’s a place that can set a trajectory for the rest of your life.”
As for what he’d like people to call the building, Schrott said, “It’s fine with me if you want to call it the Howie.”