Western names Lormand director of Fine and Performing Arts Center

CULLOWHEE – Paul Lormand, former executive director for the Sequoyah Institute at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., is the founding director of the performance facilities for Western Carolina University’s new Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Paul Lormand, founding director of the performance facilities for Western's new Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Paul Lormand, founding director of the performance facilities for Western’s new Fine and Performing Arts Center.

In his new role, Lormand will handle day-to-day management of performance areas in the $30 million, 122,000-square-foot facility, which is currently under construction. The center, to become the signature structure on the Cullowhee campus, is part of nearly $100 million in construction and renovation at Western made possible by a $3.1 billion higher education bond package approved by N.C. voters in a statewide referendum in 2000.

The facility includes classrooms, studios, galleries and support space for students majoring in the arts and humanities, and a 1,000-seat hall for Broadway-quality music and theatrical performances.

Lormand will be responsible for booking national dance company and theatre tours and musical recitals, promoting community outreach programs to enrich the region’s understanding of the performing arts, developing educational programs for K-12 audiences, and managing an auditorium with “the most cutting-edge technical capabilities in the region,” said James Manning, chair of the campus search committee.

“We had an incredible number of qualified candidates from all over the country apply for the position, and we were looking for a person with many talents,” Manning said. “Essentially, we needed a strong business and management person who also had a good sense of the performing arts and could meet audience expectations both at Western and across the region. We believe we found the right person with Paul Lormand.”

As executive director of the Sequoyah Institute at Northeastern State University, Lormand guided a nonprofit organization designed to provide cultural enrichment beyond the classroom and promote understanding of the fine arts as a critical part of the lives of students, faculty and staff at the university.

Prior to joining Sequoyah Institute in August 2001, Lormand served as head of the department of performing arts at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and was the first executive director of the Schauer Arts and Activities Center in Hartford, Wis. He worked for 10 years as artistic and managing director for the city of Collierville, Tenn., developing a municipal theatre from inception to a full schedule of events that included five major plays per year, two choral groups and a community band. He also has more than 17 years experience teaching on a college level.

“I am indeed excited about the challenges that await me at Western,” Lormand said. “Few things work as beautifully as the arts to bring people together, raise spirits and elevate a community’s quality of life. It is my purpose, mission and goal that when patrons enter the doors of the Fine and Performing Arts Center, they will experience a place to celebrate life, touch the hearts, challenge the minds and reach the souls of all who enter.”

In accepting the position, Lormand finds himself moving from northeastern Oklahoma, headquarters of the Western Band of the Cherokee Indians, to Western North Carolina, headquarters of the tribe’s Eastern Band.

“It is rather fitting that we have found someone to guide the performance space of this new facility who knows the Cherokee people so well,” said Robert Vartabedian, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs at Western Carolina. “The center will be a tribute to the Cherokee Nation, with signage in Cherokee as well as in English. It will feature a spectacular ceramic lobby floor pattern in the form of the seven-point star for the different tribal clans, and the interior walls of the performance hall will have a Cherokee motif.”

Lormand joins Martin Dewitt, who came to Cullowhee last fall as founding director of the art museum located in the Fine and Performing Arts Center. The museum includes four art galleries comprising more than 4,470 square feet. Individual galleries will hold Western’s permanent collection, and rotating displays of contemporary art, drawings and student work.

Students enrolled in the university’s new master of fine arts degree program are already at work in the art wing of the building, and the performance hall and related space is expected to be open in 2005.