Wing planned for the Dal Arts Centre
Expansion is "the single largest priority" for FASS, says Dean
Michelle Hampson - March 15, 2011
The Dalhousie Difference
This fall marks the 40th anniversary of the Dalhousie Arts Centre. Within its walls, community members have experienced the elaborate costumes, riveting theatre performances and harmonious music created by Dal students. The theatre and music departments were new and fairly small when the arts centre was built and since then the programs have grown exponentially, creating a space issue. As the chair of the Department of Theatre, Roberta Barker says, “the programs that live in the building have outgrown the building itself.”
In order to address these space issues, Dalhousie hopes to add a new wing to the Seymour Street side of the centre. The Dalhousie Arts Centre Revitalization Fund would be a $10 million project to create a 200-seat concert hall; a new multi-purpose seminar room; a dedicated space for the costume studies program; three labs for film studies, theatre and music classes; and a student lounge. As well, these new spaces would have state-of-the-art sound recording, music technology, video and computer equipment.
'Single largest priority'
“This is the single largest priority for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences within the Bold Ambitions campaign,” says Robert Summerby-Murray, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
A major benefit of the expansion would be the extra rehearsal and performance space. Music and theatre students currently have limited rehearsal space since the Rebecca Cohn and Dunn theatre are often rented out for local events and concerts.
The Department of Music doesn’t have a dedicated performing space, so students perform in the lecture hall or lobby, and rent a space whenever large ensembles are involved. “It would be great to have a space that is primarily for us,” says Todd Smith, a second-year music student.
Dr. Summerby-Murray performed alongside students in the opera last month. “I was able to engage the space as a performer as well.There’s no doubt the current spaces are aging and there are some difficulties that need to be addressed.”
He says the new spaces will affect students positively by providing them with performance spaces that are the equal to the quality of their performances.
“The other benefit here is that it gives students a direct connection to the high quality performance spaces that they will find themselves in during their professional careers.”
One of the most important benefits of the expansion is the reunion of the Costume Studies program with the rest of the Department of Theatre. The program has been leasing space off campus for nearly a decade.
Bringing costume studies to campus
Costume studies student Nicole Dowdall likes the idea of the expansion. “I think that we all kind of wish that we were more integrated with the Dalhousie theatre community and the university in general. We are kind of off in our own little space here.”
Third-year student Stephanie Revoy says the costume studies program needs a lot of space: a room for the wardrobe, dressing rooms, a place for a washer and dryer, a library, and so on. “Our concern is that we’re getting more and more students every year and we just don’t have enough space here,” she says.
Having a dedicated space in the arts centre for students will help facilitate not only their educational experience, but also their sense of community, says Dr. Barker, who notes that music and theatre are very collaborative art forms.
She says she hopes that a lot of people in the Halifax community will think about making even a small contribution to the fund because the Dalhousie Arts Centre is a crucial hub for arts activity in Halifax.
This article is part of the Dalhousie Difference series, introducing and showcasing some of the 50 innovative projects in development.
- The first story, "The Dalhousie Difference," explored what the power of philanthropy means to a university like Dalhousie.
- "All in a Day's work" was about the new scholarship fund created in the name of Sir Graham Day.
- "Imagining where they can be" announced the new TD Black Student Opportunity Grants.
- "More than a great idea" outlined plans for the new IDEA building for Sexton campus.
- "Introducing the living lab" is a story about the changes coming to Dalhousie's Goldberg Computer Science Building.
- "Students helping students" shows how a DSU initiative inspired the Johnson Scholarship Foundation