While the idea of bringing guest lecturers and artists to New Albany to share their life paths, inspirations, talents and work with students and residents had merit, no venue existed that could accommodate a large audience. The New Albany School District had always planned to have an auditorium, but one had never been built. The original high school plan in the early 1990’s included an auditorium, but a failed merger between the village and township and the resulting legal uncertainties delayed the high school construction. When construction resumed, the bond market and construction market had changed and cuts were required. As a result, the auditorium was not funded or built. The school continued to use a small, 125-seat mini-theatre. However, no venue existed to hold medium or large-sized events.
In 2001, the school district’s Facilities Committee, a group of approximately 40 residents and school representatives, met for the better part of a year leading up to a 2001 ballot issue to make recommendations to the School Board on capital or building needs. The meetings were held in a public forum. The Facilities Committee recommended four capital needs to the board. They included a K-1 Elementary School, a High School expansion, athletic improvements including the football stadium, and a performance auditorium.
Based on the facilities committee’s recommendation and community input, the board approved placing a $38 million bond issue on the November ballot. That year, after a very lengthy, public process involving resident committees, school administrators and the Board of Education in which those four components were promised, the bond issue was approved by the community.