Final exterior renderings of the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex were unveiled Tuesday by Connect2Culture, and the new design will create expanded naming opportunities, representatives of the arts organization said.

The new design features a west-side entrance that provides drive-thru drop-off with covered access to what has now been named the Beshore Performance Hall. The theater has removable seating and adjustable floors that will enable it to be used as a 470-seat theater or be reconfigured with a flat floor for table seating, a theater-in-the-round and other uses.

Outdoors, the newly unveiled Leggett & Platt Green will provide an event space for 2,000 or more people to view stage shows on the Beshore Performance Hall stage and provide a space to enlarge the audience for theater-in-the-round productions. A retractable door on the building would allow viewing from both the green and the performance hall, said Clifford Wert, president and chief financial officer of Connect2Culture as well as treasurer of the Cornell Complex.

The green also could be used for festivals, car shows and other outdoor events. A large screen will be incorporated into the rear wall of the building to provide a magnified view of the onstage performance for those on the green if adequate funding is received.

"It is a really versatile space that we don't have in Joplin," Wert said of the convertible performance hall and accompanying spaces.

The building also would provide the Freeman Health System galleries for Spiva Center for the Arts. The arts museum will have a permanent-collection gallery that it does not have now at its existing location.

Offices for Connect2Culture and Spiva Center for the Arts will be housed in the building. Pro Musica also will move its offices into the complex, Wert said.

Other outdoor spaces, including the Crossland Construction Co. Rooftop Venue, would be suitable for weddings, receptions and other events. The plans also provide outdoor reception areas for donors and for visitors to Spiva events.

The Cornell and Connect2Culture organizations plan to bid out construction in November or December with construction to begin in January. Completion is expected in September 2022, said Sharon Beshore, who chairs Connect2Culture and is president of the Cornell Complex.

Financial commitments for $15.9 million have been made. Beshore said fundraising stopped at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic but has begun again to advance the project to the enhanced goal of $17.5 million that Wert said will pay for additional features such as the outdoor screen.

"All donations are important to this project all the way from $5 to $5 million," Beshore said. 

Interior plans are being finalized and that work has provided new naming opportunities, she said.  A list of those can be obtained from Connect2Culture and will soon be posted on the website for the project at Donation forms are available under the "Take Action" link on that website.

The complex is to be built on what is now the Memorial Hall parking lot between Seventh and Eighth streets and Joplin and Wall avenues under a contract with the city of Joplin that conveys the property for that purpose.

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