The new Miller Center for the Arts opened its doors to the public for a celebration featuring tours and a Cirque le Masque show. "The intention of the facility is to help enhance the curriculum experience as well as help with the revitalization efforts of downtown Reading," said center Director Catherine Stephen.The facility, part of Reading Area Community College (RACC), is located at 2 North Second Street in Reading. It was made possible by private donors through an endowment. Both RACC students and the public will utilize the facility.

The center features a 511-seat theater with areas for private receptions and outdoor catering. Wireless Internet is available throughout the building, which will allow hearing-impaired individuals to enjoy shows without a clunky plug-in system.

The 38-foot stage offers excellent acoustics for both the spacious balcony and floor seats.

Backstage, there are monitors to enhance production quality along with a climate-controlled room that will house a nine-foot Steinway piano.

"Backstage is a loading dock that is a straight shot for props and scenery to be easily transported. It also has a convenient hydraulic lift," Stephen said.

With an enormous glass façade, the center is hard to miss.

"The glass façade allows the public to see the intermingling of students and create an air of openness. The color red is used to create an air of festivity," explained Stephen.

Unique aspects include columns inside the building that are part of an irrigation system for outside landscaping. The columns collect rain water and distribute it to the bushes, trees and flowers that adorn the walk-way in front of the building.

Inside the building, Venetian plastering was applied to the walls by a Kutztown artist. This finish will prevent the need to repaint. The plaster contains a marble and dust compound that creates a shimmery finish, which Stephen said becomes more aesthetically pleasing as it ages.

In addition to programming provided by the college, local nonprofits will have an opportunity to utilize the stage space for shows. The stage and facility will also be available to rent.

With the upcoming construction of an Imax theater next to the center, the facility may not be able to offer parking on the grounds but nearby at the college lots. For handicapped individuals, special accommodations will be made by request in order to conveniently transport wheelchair patrons through the loading zone.

The center is also located near the Goggle Works Center for the Arts. Stephen suggests making a day out of visiting the Goggle Works, Imax and Miller Center with the many area downtown restaurants nearby as well.

For more information visit www.racc.edu/millercenter.

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