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$2.5M donation to fund Northern State theater

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ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — A group of business professionals in the Aberdeen area has donated $2.5 million to help fund construction of a theater within the Johnson Fine Arts Center on the Northern State University campus.

The donors have chosen to remain anonymous, the Aberdeen American News reported ( ).

The money will enable the school to give students a quality performance space, University President James Smith said.

"We are very pleased to be the recipient of such a generous gift and thrilled to be able to tell our students that we will be able to build the quality performance space that allows them to show their amazing talent," Smith said.

The money will be used for a "black box" theater, an open performance space that includes the equipment needed for theater productions and concerts.

The building committee of the South Dakota Board of Regents in June approved an $11.3 million renovation of the Fine Arts Center. The project later came in over budget, and architects cut the theater from the project.

Students on campus said they were also excited that plans for the theater are back on track.

"I think everybody was just as surprised as us," said Katie Wegleitner, who is set to graduate in 2016 and will get to use the theater in her final semester. "If you saw the faces of the people in the choir — everybody used to be really disappointed about this. They thought no one would get to see it, that we'd all be graduated."

Even with the donation, fundraising efforts for the fine arts center will continue because it is a sizable undertaking, Smith said.


Information from: Aberdeen American News,

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