Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Breaks Ground on New Arts and Media Building

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – On Wednesday, May 15, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi officials, state representatives, and other VIP guests gathered with gold shovels in hand to break ground on the university’s new Arts and Media Building.

The two-story facility, which will be home to the university’s music, theatre, and dance programs, will provide 85,000 square feet of space that seamlessly blend innovation with functionality and will act as a hub for artistic expression, education, and community engagement.

Building amenities include a state-of-the-art 325-seat proscenium theatre, a 200-seat recital hall, a 166-seat black box theatre, a dance studio, various workshops and rehearsal spaces, along with a space for a Dr. Hector P. Garcia display. It is being designed by BGK Architects in partnership with Bora Architecture & Interiors; the builders are Bartlett Cocke General Contractors.

TAMU-CC President and CEO, Dr. Kelly M. Miller, began her career as a communication professor and department chair whose offices and classes were located in the acoustically challenged Center for the Arts.

“Thirty years ago, I walked into the Center for the Arts, and my new office was located directly across from the band rehearsal hall,” she recalled. “I quickly learned that the space was not soundproofed — it was actually made of poured concrete, which carries sound. While it certainly made for a challenging work environment, I was never happier in any space in my entire career. I may not have been an artist, but I was surrounded by artists. I was fortunate to spend 12 years of my career in the middle of the creative magic.”

Miller acknowledged the pivotal roles played by state legislators and donors to raise funds for this project, including $45 million from the Texas Legislature as part of a slate of capital projects at higher education institutions listed in Senate Bill 52 during the 87th Legislature. She also shared her vision for the university as a driver of innovative economic development and cultural vibrancy, not just for Island University students but for the entire Coastal Bend community.

Also in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony was John Sharp, Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System.

“The interesting thing about the arts programs here is that they’ve doubled in enrollment, and 100% of the [theatre education] graduates have been employed,” Sharp said. “The real deal that made this happen was $45 million from the Texas Legislature.”

Texas State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa said Miller’s advocacy for the project played a key role in seeing the request come to fruition.

“There’s very few presidents with such energy, such drive,” Hinojosa said. “It’s because of her leadership of this community, and the administration, that this campus continues to grow and continues to offer so many educational opportunities. I love the arts, I love music. It brings culture, imagination, and enhances our students. It should always be very much a part of higher education.”

Dr. Diana Sipes, TAMU-CC Director of the School of Arts, Media, & Communication, also spoke at the event.

“This building is critically important for the continued national accreditation of our music and theatre programs as we strive for the highest standards of quality, excellence, and recognition,” Sipes said. “This expansion allows us to potentially double our music major enrollment and significantly increase our theatre major enrollment as well.”

Dr. Mary Thornton, TAMU-CC Professor and Chair of Music emphasized the deep impact the new building would have on the Corpus Christi area fine arts scene. She spoke of the community impact already generated by the Harmon A. and Grace W. Dobson Islander Chamber Music Scholarship Program and the Morris L. Lichtenstein, Jr. String Quartet — all comprised of Island University students who have earned four-year full tuition and fee scholarships provided by generous donors.

“In these ensembles, our students learn the rigors of professional performance, the subtleties of artistic collaboration, and the joy of mastering their craft. They also have the opportunity to engage with local K-12 schools while they share their passion for music and teach and inspire the next generation,” Thornton told the crowd. “This outreach is crucial — it not only cultivates a love for the arts in young people but also strengthens the cultural fabric of our community.”

Ryan Perez-Castañeda ’27, an Island University theatre major, will be among the first group of students who will experience the joy of performing on the building’s brand-new stages once the project is complete in 2026.

“This new arts and media building promises to be the highlight of my senior year,” Perez-Castañeda said.

As the project moves into its final fundraising phase, various naming opportunities remain available within the building. Those interested in a naming opportunity can contact Jaime Nodarse Barrera, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, at 361.825.3320 or jaime.nodarse@tamucc.edu