Groundbreaking for new Mark Arts center in Wichita

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Liz Koch helped to unveil the new name, Mark Arts, for the former Wichita Center for the Arts.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place on the future site of the arts center at the southwest corner of 13th Street and Rock Road.

"We knew we couldn't save the old center, so necessity is the mother of invention and someone came up with this great idea," said Liz Koch, honorary trustee. "This fantastic corner, with so much exposure and so much accessibility, I cannot think of a better place to put a new center." 

The Koch family foundations donated $10.5 million in land and gifts for the new center. More than $7 million was raised through a community-wide capital campaign that began last fall.

"The Kochs have done so much for this community," said Bonnie Bing Honeyman Capital Campaign Co-Chair. "They felt, like in a way, they could give back to the Koch family. More importantly, I think they know this location, they were so happy a beautiful building coming in here."

The center's new name, Mark Arts at the Mary R Koch Arts Center, honors Mary Robinson Koch. She was was a student and benefactor of the center.

"I know this would please her so much for her family to do that because the center was so important to her. She took lessons here and was always involved," said Babs Mellor, a sculpting instructor at the center since 1974.

The new 40,000-square-foot arts center will include state-of-the art technology, art and educational spaces, and a culinary teaching kitchen.  
 
Fundraising efforts will continue in hopes of raising a total of $20 million, which will pay for a walking trail and additional landscaping and parking. In addition, organizers hope to raise funds for more scholarships.

"The more money we raise, that we can give back to the community in the form of scholarships, the happier we're all going to be," said Liz Koch.

Construction for the new center will be completed in December 2017. The grand opening is expected to be held in January 2018.

For more information about the fundraising efforts, including a paver campaign, click here.

For a link to the new Mark Arts, click here.