Dozens of campus and community members gathered at Louisiana Christian University on Thursday to honor the lives and generous donation of Norman and Lorraine Martin, whose financial contribution and vision built the Martin Performing Arts Center some 30 years ago.
Lorraine Martin, of Kansas, City, Missouri, and her daughter Julia Martin Jones, of Charlottesville, Virginia, were joined by Roy O. Martin III and Dr. Maggie Martin, and close family friends to celebrate the legacy of the performing and media arts that MPAC has allowed to flourish. Norman Martin died in 2020.
A historical marker was unveiled to recognize their legacy, followed by a luncheon.
“I wish my husband was here to experience this,” Lorraine Martin said, after listening to the students who study in MPAC share their experiences with her. “I’m so glad the building is here and is being used as it was designed to be used. This is such a blessing, and the students seem to be so happy.”
She said she and her husband had attended productions and art shows at Louisiana College in the 1980s and early ‘90s, and everything took place in the same building. The Martins met with several professors and President Robert Lynn at that time, and the school was very serious about the need for a separate performing arts space.
“It dawned on us—after talking about the need for a performing arts center and for students to have a place to learn about the performing arts and media, which was a big thing that was growing at the time—that we could take this on,” Martin said.
Jones, who was present at the 1992 dedication of MPAC, said the building is a physical embodiment of her parents’ generosity—but it was her mother’s passion that got the ball rolling three decades ago.
Norman loved music, and Lorraine is an artist, but Jones said it was her mom’s vision that made MPAC a reality.
“My mom designed the entrance to the building; they needed the creativity and vision of my mom,” Jones said. “I have such deep gratitude today, to see these students who have so much talent being launched from this small community.”
Theatre Professor Tabitha Huffman was a freshman when MPAC opened in the fall of 1992.
Huffman’s eyes light us as she recalls her first production as a student.
“I was in the first theatrical production in the building,” she said. “The play was ‘J.B.’ by Archibald MacLeish, and I played the girl. When I arrived here as a freshman in 1992, little did I know that I’d be spending a good part of the rest of my life in this building. Out of the 31 years it has been here, for 23 of those years, I have called MPAC my second home.”
Students majoring in theatre, journalism, media production, public relations and communication studies all spend many, many hours in the Martin Performing Arts Center.
“It is so meaningful to meet the person who envisioned this building, that one day would be the place I basically live in,” said senior convergence media major Noel Schonhoff, “and to see my dreams come true in the building she dreamed of is an emotional experience.”
Schonhoff and senior theatre major Carmen Taffi put together a presentation to let the Martin family get a glimpse of the magic that happens in MPAC.
“It was so sweet meeting Ms. Martin,” Taffi said, “and feeling the love she has for MPAC makes me love it even more. I enjoyed making the slide show because I wanted to express our gratitude and to show her all the effort we put into our performances, newscasts and radio programs.”
MPAC contains one of the most significant black box theatres in the nation, a television studio, a radio station, and a media lab, in addition to classrooms and office space.
“The University is eternally grateful for the support of Lorraine and Norman Martin,” said LCU President Dr. Rick Brewer. “The Martin Performing Arts Center houses some of our most creative academic offerings and is well-used by our faculty and students. The vision Mr. and Mrs. Martin and President and Mrs. Lynn had for the construction of the Performing Arts Center in the early ‘90s continues to live on in the hundreds of students who have been part of the transformational academic experience of theater and media arts at Louisiana Christian University for the past 30 years.”
Norman and Lorraine Martin were married for 69 years, until his death in 2020. They spent their lives giving back to the community they so deeply loved. The couple became the most generous contributors to charitable causes across Central Louisiana.
Norman served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and headed the forestry division of the Roy O. Martin Company. His cutting-edge timber-stand improvement practices (TSI) and reforestation efforts positioned the family’s business for a long sustainable future.
The historical marker can be seen in from of the Martin Performing Arts Center on LCU’s campus.
Media Release | Nov. 9, 2023 | Pineville, Louisiana
Contact: Dr. Elizabeth B. Clarke, Director of University Communications | Elizabeth.email@example.com