(Re)assessing the arts

Nisha Gandhi

It’s no secret that Quinnipiac is growing as a school, both in terms of size and qualifications. With stellar journalism, education, healthcare and business programs, it’s hard to ignore the fact that as the number of Bobcats in our community grows, so does the quality of education we receive.

Our visual and performing arts programs are no exceptions.

During the fall semester of 2015, the Chronicle published a piece titled “Assessing the arts at Quinnipiac,” discussing the shortcomings within the visual and performing arts departments here at QU. Just over a year later, this sentiment is no longer as applicable, and it’s quite clear that the program has taken a turn for the better.

Starting next year, both the theater and music departments will be moving off campus and onto Sherman Avenue to their own facilities.

Professor Kevin Daly, director of the theater program, views this as a great change.

“Actually, I’m excited,” Daly said. “And I think that the students will be excited when they see the new facility. It’s a huge upgrade from what we have right now.”

The building itself will be a two-story facility with a box office, seating to accommodate 100 people, a full black box (allowing mobility and flexibility with set design,) room for rehearsal space, faculty offices and a student lounge.

In addition to the increased amount of space, the new facility will also give students new opportunities within the realm of theater.

“The theater itself is going to be two stories high. That presents opportunities to teach students lighting design in ways we can do right now,” Daly said. “And that’s just the theater. Then you’ve got a full [scenic] shop… a tech area and a stage manager’s booth, which is so key because now the stage manager can look down on the stage and call the show which we’ve never had before.”

A similar facility is being built for the music department and professor George Sprengelmeyer, associate chair of visual and performing arts, shares a similar sentiment to Daly.

“It will be a big improvement,” Sprengelmeyer said. “We still need a faculty member, but it will definitely be a big improvement compared to what we’ve had in the past”.

The music department’s building, similar to the theater department’s building, will ultimately provide students and faculty with more space and more resources.

Sophomore Kipp Hopper thinks that these changes will be monumental and allow the department to progress as a whole.

“If we have more storage for instruments/equipment and more practice rooms for students, people might gravitate towards some of the unique programs in our school (like piano, guitar, or harp lessons),” Hopper said in an email interview. “If the new building offers opportunities for more students to feel engaged in music, then I’m sure that the music department will succeed.”

While there are many benefits to building these new facilities, there is also some apprehension among both students and faculty due to the fact that it will be off campus.

“Even though I am happy we’re getting it, it’s going to be on Sherman Ave and I know people have consistent issues with the shuttles so I’m worried that the shuttle is going to have a hard time getting over there,” Sprengelmeyer said. “But I think the students that are more devoted to the arts, music or theater are going to make the trip over there”.

Junior Danielle Radeke also initially had some concerns about the transportation aspect of the renovations.

“I was skeptical at first, since it is off campus and may ostracize underclassmen who do not have cars” Radeke said in an email interview. “But the more I’ve heard about it the more I love it.”

Radeke also mentioned that this new location may improve the dynamic among students who are in this program.

“As an upperclassmen, I know I and most other students would be more than willing to carpool students without cars, and it would be an even better way to get to know newer students,” Radeke said.

Sprengelmeyer, Daly, Radeke and Hopper all believe that these changes should be seen as improvements and will undoubtedly help the departments more than they will hurt them.

“These organizations are not just a bunch of really great students, but they are filled with people that are talented, people that are going places, and the University has the unique opportunity of fostering them before they go do great things in the real world.” Radeke said.

These advancements will hopefully inspire confidence in students involved in the arts.

“With these new changes, prospective students will be able to see that not only do we have performing arts programs unlike any other, but that the University supports the arts and encourages students in this area.”