2019 Commerce Magazine Book_Cmmrc_PROOF1 - Page 21

STILLWATER ATTRACTIONS McKnight Center Brings Recognition and Tourism to Stillwater “I want people in Oklahoma to have access to world-class artists. They won’t have to go to New York or London … in order to see amazing, talented people.” — MARK BLAKEMAN The construction on University Avenue is not easily missed in the city of Stillwater. 40 Breaking ground for a new state-of-the-art facility in 2016 began an exciting new era for the Stillwater community, students of Oklahoma State University and the rest of the state. Many people have come together to accomplish the goal of bringing a T feet LED wall and will capture content from the performance hall and broadcast it to the plaza wall. “We can fi t another 500 to 800 in the green space to share that experience,” Blakeman said. “It is a great way for us to connect with the community, and it is a barrier-free way to access what we are doing because we aren’t the opportunity to learn from Alex Carr, who center to build our brand around the idea is the master of the Dallas Symphony, and that we are striving to be an art and culture Chris Martin, the principle trumpetist in the destination for the whole state of Oklahoma.” New York Philharmonic. Martin will also The McKnight Center has the potential to be perform with an OSU ensemble and teach very benefi cial to the city of Stillwater and to brass ensembles and a trumpet master class. Oklahoma State University. Students at Okla- “People are really enthusiastic about the center,” homa State University will now have more Blakeman said. “I want the public to reach musical opportunities such as being taught by out to me with ideas that they have because I renowned musicians and new facilities. The am a fi rm believer in collaboration and stra- Greenwood School of Music, opening in the tegic partnership, and sometimes collabora- second season of the McKnight Center, will tion is the only way to accomplish something he McKnight Center for the Performing Blakeman grew up in Oklahoma and grad- performances will take place on Oct. 11, 12 Arts, scheduled to open in spring 2019, uated from Moore High School. Playing the and 13. Blakeman said he hopes to have an is a multi-million-dollar facility designed trumpet became his passion in seventh grade open house so the facility can be on display The McKnight Center is expected to have as help maximize the opportunity to interact really unique.” for the general public. many as 45,000 people at its performances with artists the Center brings in. Blakeman said great ideas can come from any- to provide a place for people to come to hear and for the next 20 years of his life. Although music and be exposed to a higher level of he does not have a music degree, Blakeman art and culture than currently available in attained his business degrees by going to Oklahoma. The center will provide learning college on music scholarships. Blakeman opportunities for all ages and bring economic said his love for music has led him directly impact to the Stillwater community. to this position. The center is about 65,000 square feet and has two interior performance theatres, a recital hall and an outdoor plaza. The perfor- mance hall is the bigger of the interior per- formance theatres. It has 1,100 seats and a charging for tickets.” and an economic impact of $11.3 million on Stillwater in the fi rst year. Blakeman spends time going to various communities around Oklahoma to speak about the message, vision and benefi ts of the McKnight Center. “People who typically come from outside a “I want people in Oklahoma to have access to “We are expecting to be substantially com- full orchestra pit and is incredibly versatile. world-class artists,” said Mark Blakeman, the plete in May 2019 and then begin to occupy With minor accommodations, this hall can community to have an art and culture expe- Marilynn and Carl Thoma Executive Director. the building shortly after that,” he said. “Our be used for musical theatre, tour and dance rience tend to spend more money and are fi rst performance will be Friday, Oct. 11, 2019.” companies, ballets, and operas. The recital looking for ancillary expenses related to that This fi rst performance at the McKnight hall is a more intimate space with 212 seats artistic experience,” Blakeman said. “They and will be a space designated for only music. come early to shop or have dinner and maybe The outdoor plaza includes a 32 feet by 16 stay the night in a hotel and then get break- “They won’t have to go to New York or London or another distant location in order to see amazing, talented people.” Center will be the New York Philharmonic. That will be part of the opening gala where fast. We are being strategic about trying to 41 “We aren’t just presenting concerts but cre- where and he is excited to hear thoughts from ating learning opportunities for students on the community. Along with the support of the campus,” Blakeman said. communities in Oklahoma, he said everyone Through partnerships with the Greenwood School of Music, the center has slated artists in Stillwater has shown to believe in the arts as a vehicle for changing lives, healing people, to teach OSU students through master class escaping and recharging. programs and extended residency. Carter The McKnight Center’s program for the fi rst Brey, the principle cellist of the New York year will be available in late January or early Philharmonic, performed in the fall with February. For more information or to con- the OSU Symphony Orchestra as an intro- nect with the McKnight Center, visit osu- duction to the partnership with the philhar- giving.com. monic. Stu dents in the future will also have BY K A MIK A R AL STIN place of inspiration, art and music to the region. bring in people outside of Stillwater to the