Mission & History


A catalyst for creativity and learning, the Prior Performing Arts Center amplifies the arts at Holy Cross and provides the College, the greater Worcester community, and visiting creative thinkers with an inspiring environment to pursue diverse questions of the human experience.


The opening of the Prior Performing Arts Center signals a new era in a longstanding tradition, grounded in our mission as a Jesuit liberal arts college, of using the arts to create dialogue, challenge perspectives, and encourage innovation and creative thinking. In recent years, this tradition was embodied by programs such as Arts Transcending Borders, an initiative which offered conceptual and programmatic inspiration for the Prior during the period the performing arts center was being planned and constructed.  Exemplifying an integrative, interdisciplinary approach to the arts, Arts Transcending Borders infused the arts into students’ academic lives and produced new opportunities throughout the curriculum and the community to leverage creativity across cultural, geographic, and intellectual boundaries. World-class artists hosted by the program included the Silk Road Ensemble, Taylor Mac, Las Cafeteras, Terence Blanchard, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company.

Arts Transcending Borders—and the many members of our community who championed it—clearly demonstrated that the arts are a vital component of the Holy Cross experience. This program and other, related efforts by faculty, staff, and students across the College have been essential to envisioning what a state-of-the-art performing arts center promises to our campus and community. It is upon their strong foundation that the Prior Performing Arts Center now stands.

Cornelius B. Prior, Jr. ’56

Cornelius B. Prior Jr.

Former trustee and current Board of Advisors member Cornelius B. Prior, Jr. ’56 is a man whose deep affection for the arts and for Holy Cross have inspired his generous cornerstone gifts to his alma mater. A longtime champion of the arts at the College, Prior’s philanthropic support has been varied, extensive, and ongoing. His vision and leadership ensure that Holy Cross will be a fount of creativity and imagination for years to come, enabling countless students the opportunity to experience the arts and pursue their creative passions.