The Martin Center for the Arts began as a dream in the 1980s and 1990s in the Johnson City area. In 2013, the state of Tennessee and Board of Regents approved ETSU’s request for a partnership with the City of Johnson City to build a more than $53 million facility that would include performance and instructional spaces for students, faculty and community.
Fundraising began in 2013 as the ETSU Arts Initiative, propelled by a $3 million gift from Jim Martin and a $1 million pledge from his and Mary’s daughter, Sonia S. King. Ground was broken on the James C. and Mary B. Martin Center for the Arts in September 2017, between The James and Nellie Brinkley Center (formerly ETSU Millennium Center) and Bank of Tennessee on State of Franklin Road, across from the university.
Joining the Martins and Kings in making this dream possible were the ETSU Foundation, City of Johnson City, Washington County, Tenn., Eastman Credit Union, General Shale, James and Sandra Powell, William and Judith Tindall and nearly 600 other supporters, to date. The advocacy and support of Dr. Bert Bach, ETSU’s longtime Provost and former ETSU President Paul Stanton and his wife, Nancy, were also integral to making the “possibilities” of the arts center a reality.
The 93,000-square-foot arts center and instructional facility was designed by McCarty Holsaple McCarty and construction under the auspices of Denark Construction, both Knoxville companies.
Inside the center, patrons, students and artists will find three performance venues – the 1,200-seat ETSU Foundation Grand Hall, the 200-plus-seat Powell Recital Hall and a flexible staging/seating black box performing space, the Bert C. Bach Theatre.
Facing the southern exposure and ETSU’s main campus is the 3,000-square-foot Tindall Lobby, featuring box office, monitors offering live feeds from the venues and a view of the Sonia S. King Plaza that frames the front and eastern side of the facility.