Construction on a new downtown Joplin Arts Center will begin soon. The new Cornell Arts Center is expected to attract Northeast Oklahoma visitors to its performances and exhibitions according to Sharon Beshore chairman of the Connect2Culture committee.

Speaking at the Grove Rotary, Beshore said the new arts center will be located in downtown Joplin on Seventh Street next to the Joplin Memorial Hall. The 46,000 square foot building will have a 450-seat Performance Hall as well as be home of the Spiva Center for the Arts. There will be a large outdoor Festival Plaza and amphitheater that will allow up to 1,500 people on the grounds.

Beshore along with Emily Frankoski, the organization's Community Arts Director spoke to Rotary members about the organization which was founded in 2009 as a way to connect visual and performing arts groups in the city. Almost immediately the need for a performing arts center was recognized, however, plans were put on hold after the 2011 tornado struck the city.

However, by June, about $14 million of the $16 million needed to build the center was raised. Now plans are to open the facility in the summer or fall of 2022.

In the meantime, Connect2Culture has a four-performance season which is currently performed at the Joplin High School Performing Arts Center. The 2019-2020 season includes Ailey II on Oct. 29, the renown New York dance company; David Phelps, formerly of the Gaither Vocal Band, on Dec. 15; Voctave, an a cappella group, on Feb. 2 and The Choir of Man musical on March 20.

Beshore said the group plans to attract major talent for the region when the theater is completed.

The nonprofit group currently provides a weekly arts and culture calendar of area events on their Facebook page. The group also hold workshops for area arts and culture groups so that they can learn about issues such as media and copyright issues.

The new arts center is expected to benefit retailers, restaurants and generate new sales tax revenue for the city of Joplin.

Helping to expand the arts in the city, two Joplin Rotary Clubs established a Sculpture Garden within Mercy Park in Joplin.