By Matt Wiley
As part of the State of Florida’s 2014 budget, several million dollars have been set aside for what could become the first convention center and performing arts education center in Pasco County. While that alone is monumental, the project likely will be constructed right here in Wesley Chapel.
On June 2, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the state’s $77-billion budget. Pasco County received some significant budget allocations, including millions for a performing arts center tied to Pasco-Hernando State College, which opened its Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch off S.R. 56 in January.
According to the Florida House of Representatives’ General Appropriations Act for 2014-15, PHSC is set to receive $10 million in Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds, or funds raised through the levy of utility taxes.
“This year’s budget demonstrates the Florida Legislature’s continued commitment to giving back to hard-working Floridians, providing a quality education for every child and growing Florida’s economy,” said House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) in a press release regarding the balanced budget. “We have once again balanced the needs of the state with the responsibility to plan for the future and produced a budget that will benefit all Floridians.”
Weatherford says that the center is perfect for the changing needs of the growing area.
“The PHSC arts and convention facility will be a gamechanger for our community,” Weatherford explains. “This facility will provide more convention space and new opportunities for PHSC to provide its students with a world-class education in the arts.”
The performing arts center, which is estimated to cost about $60 million and be able to seat between 2,500-3,000, would be a joint-use facility between PHSC, the county and the Pasco County School District, says PHSC spokesperson Lucy Miller.
“We’re still probably 5-6 years out on the project,” Miller says. “The land will be located in Wesley Chapel, but we don’t have the room at the Porter Campus. We’re still in the ground stages (of the project).”
Miller explains that the joint-use facility could establish strong collaborative education programs to prepare students for careers in performing arts and to offer sophisticated cultural opportunities for residents.
“The facility would provide us with the opportunity to expand our performing arts offerings and develop new programs,” Miller explained. “Several other Florida College System institutions provide drama programs along with related degrees and certificates such as music, dance, stage design and light and audio engineering.”
Stay with the Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News as we follow this exciting development.