PULLMAN, Wash.-Washington State University’s School of Music and Theatre today was awarded $625,000 from The Allen Foundation for Music. The money will be used to complete a newly designed recording studio in the Kimbrough Music Building.

“It’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to the music program,” says Erich Lear, program chair of the Kimbrough Project and former director of the School of Music and Theatre Arts. “This is a major award for the arts here,” adds current director James Schoepflin.

This day has been almost 10 years in the making. It was about a decade ago when conversation about a refurbished Kimbrough Music Building began and the dream included a recording studio. The revamp of the building was completed a year and a half ago, but funding to outfit the recording studio came up short. Today there is studio space, gleaming hardwood floors, acoustics and lighting, but there is no equipment. The custom cabinets and consoles are empty.

“This money will allow us to research and purchase the best and latest technology,” Schoepflin says. And it will happen quickly. The plan is to review the existing but dated equipment list, make revisions and substitutions where necessary, and purchase and install the equipment before the fall semester.

In this case, patience may have its reward. “There’s a chance the cost of many items has actually come down,” says Schoepflin. “We may get more for our money and better equipment than we would have two years ago.” The wish list so far includes digital everything, mixers, microphones, monitors and computers. Because technology has evolved, MP3 equipment will be a consideration.

An existing position in the school is already earmarked for a recording engineer. An endowment fund for equipment and facility maintenance will be established with a portion of the funds received from The Allen Foundation for Music.

Liberal Arts Dean Barbara Couture, too, has been part of the effort to secure funding for the project. “Our music program at Washington State University is a true gem. This funding will allow us to do top-flight recordings of the work of the outstanding faculty and staff of the program, as well as involve communities throughout the university and the state of Washington in music programs here.

“The studio also will provide a world-class facility for our students to learn about the components of music recording in preparation for careers in the music industry,” she said. “We are grateful for this support. The gift will have many positive returns for WSU and our friends across the state for years to come.”

The timing of the gift could not be better according to Jeff Puckett, development director for the College of Liberal Arts. With education budgets dwindling, the university depends on donors more than ever.

“The impact of this grant is unbelievable. The credibility and visibility of The Allen Foundation for Music sends a loud message to anyone wondering about the vitality and future of music and all the arts at WSU: If you want to experience or invest in a world-class music and arts community, then look no further than right here in the Palouse,” Puckett said. For a student perspective, contact Heather Ebba Maib, WSU Music major, at (509) 332-3471.

The Allen Foundation for Music supports creativity, innovation, and public participation in all forms of American popular music. Through to projects and programs in the Pacific Northwest, the foundation promotes experimentation across disciplines, provides access to artists and art forms not readily available and encourages individuals to discover their own creative potential. Past recipients include UMO Ensemble, One Reel, Earshot Jazz Society and the Koahnic Broadcast Corporation of Alaska. Established in 1999, the foundation is administered through Vulcan Inc. of Seattle.