WATCH NOW: Celebration marks 10th anniversary of Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center at UW-Parkside | Local News

SOMERS — The Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for the Arts and Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside was celebrated with special programming, events and crowds on Sunday.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the center’s inauguration, the university held “A Sunday at the Rita,” opening the facility to students and the public with numerous activities and events throughout the day.

Guests could tour art labs and studios, art galleries and enjoy refreshments at the afternoon event. Highlights included a performance by the Parkside Range a cappella group in Bedford Concert Hall, and a reception for the art show “Together Again: Racine/Kenosha” in the Fine Arts Gallery.

A decade ago, renovations on the original building and the addition of an entire new music wing were completed, wrapping up a $30 million project.

Lisa Marie Barber, UW-Parkside professor of arts and director of liberal arts studies, said it changed the environment in the school and brought in the benefits of the digital age to teaching.

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“It was completely outdated,” Barber said of the original building, “particularly for the arts.”

Lesley H. Walker, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, said they were thankful to be celebrating the center’s 10-year anniversary.

“What we’re able to do here is offer a terrific education for our students in arts and humanities and a robust engagement in the arts for our community,” Walker said.

Important milestone

UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford, who was at the ground-breaking in 2012, said Sunday’s Rita event was important.

“Anytime you have a milestone, you need to take time and celebrate what’s been accomplished, and look forward to what’s ahead,” Ford said.

Looking back on the decade, Ford said things have definitely changed, especially with an increased emphasis on digital technology. She looks forward to what the future may bring.

“I think about how many lives here have been positively influenced because of the Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities,” Ford said. “If these walls could talk, they’d tell some amazing stories.”

Positive influence

Working in one of the labs was Leslie Vaglica, along with several students. They were creating the outfits for an upcoming play. Although Vaglica is new to UW-Parkside, she said the quality of the Parkside facilities played a big part in her decision to join the faculty.

“It’s an excellent place to learn,” Vaglica said. “The fact so much went into the renovations of the arts building shows it inspires support in people.”

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