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Bicknell Family Center for the Arts

About Bicknell Center

Art. Music. Theatre. Dance. We have it all!

Bicknell Family Center for the Arts Mission Statement:
The staff of the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts strives to make everyone’s experience special as we produce and help others to produce great concerts, theatrical productions, and special events for our campus and community. 

Bicknell Family Center for the Arts Vision Statement:
We will build a community around the arts and provide transformational experiences through the continuing development of the Bicknell Center, its programs, and the programs of our campus and community partners.  

Bicknell Family Center for the Arts Service Mission:
Our partners, audience, performers, guests, and coworkers are our focus and our purpose. They are not an interruption of our work; they are the purpose of our work. They are not an outsider in our business; they are our business. We are not doing them a favor by serving them; they are doing us a favor by allowing us to serve them. We will work proactively to meet and exceed their needs and expectations as we make them feel welcome.  

Make Memories at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts! 


history sketch

Front of the building at dusk

The decades-old dream of a new performing arts center at Pittsburg State University took a giant leap forward early in 2013 when construction work began on the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts.

The groundbreaking signaled PSU’s “intent to reclaim its rightful place as the cultural center of this region.” Members of the PSU family came together on February 1, 2013, for the ceremonial groundbreaking. On December 7th 2014, the Center opened with a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony and tours of the facility.

On March 12, 2015, the Center celebrated with a gala performance hosted by our namesake, Gene Bicknell, with music by the University Choirs and the Southeast Kansas Symphony supported by student performers from across all the art disciplines on campus. 

Since then, we have hosted tens of thousands of audience members for memorable performances from national tours of Broadway shows, VIP lecturers, concerts, and plays. We annually play host to numerous public speakers of note as part of the H. Lee Scott Lecture Series and Women in Government Lecture Series. The list includes former President Bill Clinton, former First Lady Laura Bush, and many more.


Paul Bergant Family Lobby

This beautiful lobby is the backbone of the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, providing access and connectivity to the performance venues and gallery. Its most prominent features include the curved wall of glass panels and the large skylight, providing patrons with a relaxing and open space in which to enjoy the arts. 

More than 210 panes of glass line the curved wall, allowing natural sunlight to illuminate the lobby by day and providing a breathtaking view of the campus by night. 
Installed above each windowpane is an environmental shade. Made possible by a gift from the Ronald O. Thomas Foundation, these shades automatically adjust depending upon the time of day and intensity of sunlight. 

As you pass through the lobby, be sure to gaze upward at the Alan G. and Roberta Harlow Whetzel Skylight. Its beautiful design allows light to cascade down the exterior wall of the performance hall, highlighting the natural grain of the Anigre wood. 

The Bergant Family Lobby also hosts special events and receptions and is a performance setting in its own right. The Mitchelson Family Performance Alcove, located to the west of the Gallery’s main entrance, provides the perfect setting for a small performance group to entertain up to 100 visitors in both the lobby and the James S. and Treva J. Dawson second floor lobby.   


bfcfa lobby north first floorTo the west of the main entrance of the Gallery, the Mitchelson Family Performance Alcove provides the perfect setting for a small performance group to entertain up to 100 patrons in both the lobby and the James S. and Treva J. Dawson lobby on the second floor.

lobby by sam



The Gallery


The gallery’s high ceilings, flexible lighting grid, and nearly 3,500 square-feet of display and workspace provides incredible opportunities for artists and patrons alike. The perfect setting for special exhibitions that were never before possible on campus. This gallery also includes workspace for an artist-in-residence and the flexibility to showcase multiple exhibitions at once.



Gallery exhibit



The O. Gene Bicknell Exhibit  

This room provides insight into the life and times of the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts’ lead donor and local businessman, Gene Bicknell. His inspirational story of overcoming poverty to build and lead one of the region’s largest corporations is told visually through a collection of historical memorabilia and personal reflections. 

You’ll be moved by the historical displays which provide insight into his core values as an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and a civic leader. 



bfcfa bicknell museum new

Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall  

Everything about our 10,000+ square foot, 1,000+ seat performance hall is the heart our Center was designed  by world-renowned architects with audiences and performers in mind.  

Every curve and angle within the Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall has a purpose in mind. This hall features "tunable" acoustics that can be adjusted to provide the perfect acoustics for any performance. Be it symphonic, lecture, theater, or rock concert, you can rest assured that you’ll be hearing the very best the artist has to offer.  

architectural drawing and first event from same perspective

Our custom-made orchestral shell, constructed from Anigre wood, stands 29 feet tall and helps enhance and direct sound throughout the performance hall for musical performances. Its unique design produces a warm sound that envelops performer and patron alike. It is movable and can be stored, allowing the use of the full stage. 



women performing for korean culture day

One thing you won’t notice is the sound of the ductwork. The Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall’s design reduces noise wherever possible, and this includes its heating and cooling system. Air passages have purposefully been left open under the seating areas, and a special low-flow air handling system has been installed to ensure the comfort of the audience without sacrificing the acoustics of the performance hall. 

SEK Symphony Concert

Dotty and Bill Miller Theater  

This 280-seat theater provides the university with its first dedicated theater space since 1978. Encompassing just under 4,500 square-feet, this theater has been designed by award-winning architects to provide artists with an intimate and engaging environment in which to perform. With more than 200 lighting connections in place, this theater ensures superb lighting in every area. 


The state-of-the-art sound system helps bring the action on stage to life. No detail was too small for the architects, take note of the step-down seating, which provides a great view from every seat in the house.



bfcfa miller balcony

The height of the balcony was purposefully set low to ensure those seated above feel as much a part of the action as those on the main floor. You'll also notice none of the seats have been permanently affixed to the floor, allowing the audience positioning to be as unique as the program. 

The theater is also the perfect backdrop for intimate ceremonies, like the annual PSU ROTC Commissioning, the Pritchett Trust Scholarship presentation, and small ensemble performances during PSU Jazz Fest, and it's been the setting for panel discussions with such luminaries as Condoleezza Rice.



Dr. Peter K. Hamilton Green Room  


The Dr. Peter K. Hamilton Green Room hosts small groups and individual lecturers who entertain in the Dotty and Bill Miller Theater, with the amenities of both a kitchen and a living room. 
The origins of the phrase “green room” is lost to history, but it functions as a place of rest and preparation for performers remains the same as the first green rooms hundreds of years ago. 

The Hamilton Green Room provides the perfect respite for performers before, during, and after a performance.  




Gordon W. and Bev Elliott Green Room


Larger and more flexible than the Hamilton Green Room, the Gordon W. and Bev Elliott Green Room is designed to meet the needs of larger performance troupes and musicians.   

The Elliott Green Room provides performers with a relaxing backstage area to prepare for their time on stage, catch their breath in-between performances, or rest after an exciting performance. 

The Elliott Green Room is strategically located adjacent to a large assembly area to allow backstage operations to flow smoothly. Members in the assembly area have access to both the Elliott Green Room and the main stage area, reducing noise and congestion in the backstage area. If needed, the Elliott Green Room can also be divided in half with a mobile wall to create additional privacy in the backstage area. 






hamilton greenroom





elliott green room new

Dressing Rooms 


The Bicknell Center houses six dressing rooms. The "Star" dressing rooms are designed for individual or small groups and include large mirrors and professional-grade lighting. The "Chorus" dressing rooms can hold groups of up to 20. The “Cast” dressing rooms can hold groups of up to 10. Each of the dressing rooms is also equipped with closed-circuit TVs, audio, and communication equipment. All dressing rooms house showers and restroom facilities so that nothing will slow down the performers before they take the stage. 

Tom and Jane Collinson Star Dressing Room 
George and Billie Pitzer Star Dressing Room 
Russell L. Jones Dressing Room (Chorus) 
Ida Spradling Locarni Dressing Room (Chorus) 
Ron’s Supermarket/The Rhodes Family Dressing Room (Casting) 
Dr. Don and Mrs. Betty Hight Dressing Room (Casting) 




large dressing rooms



Scene Shop 


Amazing theatre is a combination of great performances, insightful direction, and amazing sets that draw you into the action. In a sense, the Scene Shop is where the magic begins. 

The Bicknell Family Center for the Arts Scene Shop has been designed specifically for the Pitt State Theatre. Its features include built-in compressed air, electrical wiring capable of handling the demands of the theater, and modern tools. 

The location of the Scene Shop is no accident. It is between the Dotty and Bill Miller Theater and the Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall to allow carpenters easy access to both stages and the loading dock. The large doors at the back and front of the scene shop provide ample room for sets of all sizes to make the journey.   


Costume Shop 


In many performances, the apparel worn by the actors is as much a character as the performers themselves. Our Costume Shop is equipped with large windows for natural light, sewing machines, fabric, a fitting area, and cutting tables. 
Creativity comes together in the Costume Shop to create everything from a Victorian period dress to full-sized jungle animals. Whatever the performance calls for, the professionals in the Costume Shop help bring it to life for the audience.  



scene shop new




 costume shop new


The Dean Family VIP Room 


Located adjacent to the James S. and Treva J. Dawson Lobby, this room is much more than meets the eye. Its location makes it the perfect space for pre-event receptions, artist lectures, master classes, and special events. Its layout also incorporates video projection, sound for events, and a sink to support food service. It’s this type of flexibility that makes the Bicknell Center such a great space for events of every kind.  




Rehearsal Hall


At nearly 3,000 square feet of space, this hall houses the rehearsals for PSU’s large ensembles and community performance groups.

During Fall and Spring semesters, the PSU Music Department ensure the building is always full of music!

When the PSU Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, Southeast Kansas Symphony at Pittsburg State University, Symphonic Band, and the Pride of the Plains Marching Band classes are not using the space, students are able to utilize the room to practice for recitals or private lessons.




SEK Symphony Rehearsal



Garden Courtyard  

There isn’t an inch of space at the Bicknell Center not designed with the arts in mind, including the Garden Courtyard. This exterior space is adjacent to the glassed-in hallway on the south of our building, chosen as a location for a future reception and garden sanctuary for use prior to, between, or after events.

drawing sculpture garden





future sculpture garden site

We are still looking for donor support to complete this space.