Forbes Center for the Performing Arts
The Forbes Center for the Performing Arts at James Madison University comprises five venues and tells a remarkable story of transformation, innovation, site optimization, and safety, impacting the student experience, the University, and the community. Boldly affirming the university’s commitment to the arts, it provides innovative spaces for theater, music, and dance education, and performance.
Once underserved by a 1960s-era theater that was essentially a multi-purpose auditorium and an even older experimental black-box theater, the university now boasts a full array of separate venues under one roof, complete with advanced technologies and equipment. Highly adjustable programmable acoustics in the Concert and Recital Halls; a tension wire grid mirroring the shape of the Proscenium Theater thrust stage; and retractable seating are all features allowing rehearsal and performance to take place in the same space. Retractable seating at the Proscenium and Studio Theaters provides audience and performance flexibility.
Because the Center is situated on Main Street, which is also a U.S. highway, safety improvements were an additional concern. The design team created an underground viaduct connecting the campus with the Forbes Center and a newly constructed parking facility. This new cultural arts corridor draws non-arts majors, faculty, staff and the public to both formal and impromptu performances. Lastly, the Center completes JMU's iconic quad, anchoring its arts offerings in the community and the student experience.
“The facility is only a few months old and we are remarkably satisfied by the practical and aesthetic integrity of the spaces. The Forbes Center for the Performing Arts at James Madison University is a gem.”– Richard Finkelstein, professor and artistic director, James Madison University