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Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Tye Noorda speaks at a ribbon-cutting for SCERA's scenery, props and costume facility in Orem on Thursday.

OREM — Floor-to-ceiling racks of royal gowns, black-fringed flapper dresses and tweed business suits are next to a wall dotted with feathered hats and wigs with black corkscrew curls.

Across the lobby, saws, tools and pallets of wood sit ready to be shaped into sets for the next musical or play at Orem's SCERA Center for the Arts.

It's hard work putting on a play, but thanks to a $1.5 million donation from the Ray and Tye Noorda foundation, the nonprofit SCERA has a new home for all the "behind the scenes" elements, said SCERA CEO Adam Robertson.

"The Noorda family donated the 2.5 acres we sit on," Robertson said Thursday afternoon to those gathered outside the newly renovated building at 345 E. 800 South. "To tell you how significant that is to SCERA, we (currently) sit on 2.5 acres. We, through their generosity, were able to double that land."

The building, formerly home to Teleperformance, was purchased by the Noordas in December and turned over to SCERA, whose costume and prop shops were bursting at the seams. And their former scene shop? What scene shop? Crews were building scenes in the parking lot, sweating in the summer and shivering in the winter.

Now, they can relax in the indoor work space, with areas for wood and metal construction and a large garage door so scenes can travel easily.

"This is where it happens," said David Whitlock, artistic director for SCERA, as he looked around the shop. "Everyone works so hard ... and having this resource improves their lives very directly. It's such a trickle effect, it's hard to quantify."

Not only are the workers happier and more productive, Whitlock said, but the thousands of children and adults who volunteer their time in productions each year will benefit from the improvements.

Plus, now that the SCERA has a more organized, catalogued set of props, it's easier to loan a table or a dresser or half of a giant toadstool to high schools or junior high schools who might not be able to afford many props of their own.

And that's what Tye Noorda wants. Noorda, the wife of deceased Novell CEO Ray Noorda, spoke briefly at Thursday's ribbon-cutting.

"My husband is the one who did this," she said with a wry smile. "I haven't made a dime for years."

Amid the chuckles she continued by saying she and her husband, who passed away last October, always wanted to use their money for useful, uplifting things to benefit others.

"(Plays and musicals) change our lives," said Orem Mayor Jerry Washburn. "They're not frivolous things we go to. They convey meaning and value and give us an anchor in our community."

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