The T. Furth Center for Performing Arts

The T. Furth Center for Performing Arts will provide a prominent place for the arts in the lives of residents and students, expand the cultural resources of Steuben County and create an environment where artists can thrive.

A comprehensive community needs assessment (completed in 2006) confirmed that opportunities for creating, appreciating and interacting with the arts was dishearteningly absent from northeast Indiana, limiting opportunities for students, youth and families.
The nearest artistic venues for the public to inspire and be inspired are nearly an hour away, which limits the potential the arts have to elevate and uplift lives.

The artistic void triggered Trine University leaders and trustees, along with the Steuben County Commissioners, to begin to strategically infuse the arts into the community. Then, two families of trustees funded the purchase of an historic building in the heart of Angola and gave renovation seed money to create a performing arts center. The building, which served as the Angola Christian Church for a century, will reinforce our sense of tradition while serving as a space where generations to come can join to improve their communities, lives and experiences.

Trine University letter to the Franklin H. and Ruth L. Wells Foundation, 2009.
"How the Arts Impact Communities: An introduction to the literature on arts impact studies," Joshua Guetzkow, Princeton University, 2002.


While Trine University has a reputation of being a respected engineering school, many don′t realize that it also has an artistic tradition. When the university was founded as Tri–State Normal College in 1884, students could major in piano, vocal culture, organ and theory. Then–college president Littleton Sniff built the $2,000 music hall at his own expense. It proudly stood near the northwest corner of Darling Street and Park Avenue.
By 1924, the university changed its name to Tri–State College and dropped music classes, but kept band and choir on as extracurricular activities for students. As time gave way to the Second World War, the school put more emphasis on technical classes.

Four years ago, Trine began a quest to return to its roots by offering music classes. Now, all students have the option of completing a minor in music. This year, the program has grown to include four bands, an orchestra and two choirs with more than 160 students participating.

Mark Kays, Trine′s band director, explained that more than 75 percent of students in the school′s two jazz bands are engineering students.

"The mind of an engineer lends itself to being a musician," Kays said. "If you have a student who is looking to go to an engineering school, Trine is a good option because it allows students with a love for music to pursue it as an extracurricular activity."


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"What creative energy this will generate! Like a pebble interrupting a pond′s placid surface, the center will invite expression in ever–widening circles. I foresee a thriving music program, student recitals, a variety of concerts, and some of the best musicians in the country stopping at Trine as they commute from Chicago to Cleveland or East Lansing to Indianapolis."

— Mark Kays, Director of Bands and Music Programs, Trine University

"The past fascinates me here at Trine, and I always hope that the University connects to the fine traditions of performing arts here in Angola. Drama has been part of our culture. The T. Furth Center for the Performing Arts will reinforce the communal nature of the arts here in northeast Indiana and beyond."

— Dr. Tim Hopp, Chair–elect of the Department of Languages & Humanities, Drama Club adviser, Trine University