Lied Center building expansion gains approval


The University of Nebraska Foundation and the Lied Center for Performing Arts announce a building expansion to the arts center, made possible through a gift from Christina M. Hixson and the Lied Foundation Trust. The University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved of the gift and project at its Oct. 15 meeting. Construction could begin in February 2011 with completion in August 2012.

"The Lied Center is a Nebraska treasure and we welcome new opportunities to serve the public," said Chancellor Harvey Perlman. "We are grateful for the generosity of Christina Hixson that makes the expansion possible."

This gift brings the first addition to the 20-year-old performing arts center. The addition will be situated on the north side of the building, adjacent to the Lied Brick Plaza and Sheldon Museum of Art, and have an independent entrance. It will enable the Lied Center to offer event space for cultural programs, education events, receptions and small performances. Initial drawings and plans have been created by BVH Architects in Lincoln.

Bill Stephan, the Lied Center's executive director since 2009, is optimistic about the benefits this gift will have for the Lied Center and its patrons.

"The Lied Center is truly Nebraska's Home for the Arts, and as such the facility has increased its activities and services over the years to meet needs. This new space will enable us to better serve the university, our many rental clients, and most importantly, Nebraskans."

The 8,000-square-foot addition will feature a large multipurpose room for event rentals and Lied Center education and donor events. It will also include a conference room, restrooms and a catering kitchen. Perhaps the most special feature of the additional is the Lied Executive Suite, a tribute space to Ernst Lied, including personal items that celebrate his career.

"The state of Nebraska, and most significantly the University of Nebraska, have been primary beneficiaries of grants from the Lied Foundation Trust," said Terry Fairfield, University of Nebraska Foundation vice chairman. "It is fitting that this new addition honoring Mr. Lied and the gift made by Ms. Christina Hixson, the Lied Foundation Trust's sole administrator, will adjoin the Lied Center For Performing Arts - the very first grant made by the Trust."

The creation of this space is funded entirely by the private dollars pledged by Christina Hixson. The addition will be self-sustaining through earned and contributed income. Endowment support at the University of Nebraska Foundation will support operations and maintenance costs for this addition for as long as needed while the new space develops its financial income from event rentals. Operations and maintenance costs are estimated to be approximately $20,000 annually. Revenue potential exceeds these maintenance costs.

The Lied Center for Performing Arts is an exceptional venue that provides students and the residents of Nebraska with the opportunity to interact with the greatest artists in the world. The Lied Center was made possible by Christina Hixson and the Ernst F. Lied Foundation Trust. Due to the great success of the Lied Center, Hixson was compelled to give the additional gift of $2.5 million to enhance the Lied Center and provide a building addition which will both pay a special tribute to Ernst Lied and provide an additional space at the Lied for student learning, artist interactions and patron development. Hixson is one of the University of Nebraska's largest donors of all time.

- Shannon McClure, Lied Center for Performing Arts