Adequate, spread out, dangerous, state of the art, lovely. Depending on who's talking, you'll get a different description of the various facilities that house Drury's fine arts department.
Theater department faculty members, pleased with the renovations of Springfield Hall in 1999, are glad to have classroom space, a studio theater, a design lab and offices in one building. The studio theater, in particular, seems to be a source of pride. "This building, short of a new theater, brought us all together," said Rob Schraft, chair of the theater department. The proximity of the department to the Wilhoit Theater is also helpful, according to professor Ruth Monroe.
The Music Department, housed in O'Bannon and Clara Thompson Halls, has adequate rehearsal and performance space, but the facilities still fall short of ideal. "Clara Thompson [Hall] is great. It is very nice. Drury has spent dollars you can't really see bringing the building up to code. However, a lot of the studios aren't air conditioned, and unfortunately, the auditorium only seats about 450 people. If we want to do larger functions we have to use Weiser Gym," said music department chair Tijuana Julian.
The idea of a large performing arts center on Drury's campus is popular among the faculty. Rob Schraft would like to see a multi-function, free-standing theater. "A free-standing theater that puts us all in one building would be great." He envisions a facility with audience space that is not tied to another academic building. Julian agrees. "It would be great at some point in the future if we could develop a fine arts center," she said, "a place to combine and bring together music and theater - a place for the performing arts."
The art and art history department, scattered across the campus, is woefully located in seven different buildings. Students take classes in Lydy, Pearsons, Burnham, Belle and Wallace Halls as well as Olin Library and Hammons School of Architecture.
The faculty eagerly await the renovations that will create the Pool Arts Center, which will "bring us together in a way that Lydy Hall was never able to do," said Tom Parker, professor of art. "We really do need a home. Lydy was never designed as an art building. It was built as just a classroom building. It was built on a shoestring, and an art building is a very specialized building. You've got to have adequate ventilation; we can't even open the windows. It's not healthful. It's not safe. It's going to be good to have a new space."
Often, faculty in the arts departments feel that their needs have been relegated to second place, behind other academic programs. It's an interesting perspective they take. Without exception, every faculty member interviewed mentioned that their department offers students a home, a refuge, a place to fit. In so doing, these departments help retain Drury students who face adjustment and acceptance problems. In that regard, facility improvements may prove to be money well spent.
The Pool Arts Center
The Campaign for the Fine Arts begins this winter to raise the funds needed to convert a historic warehouse to a new arts center.
|The Pool Arts Center before renovation|
Age: Approximately 85 years
Floor space: 23,000 square feet
Former use: Coca-Cola bottling plant, light industry, commercial
When purchased by Drury: January 1997
Current use: Storage
Cost to renovate: $1.6 million
Spaces: Studios for painting, drawing, printing, weaving, art history, ceramics, sculpture, graphic design, digital imagery, photography and advanced studio; classroom space; faculty teaching offices
Gallery: 2,500 square feet (current Cox Gallery is 1,500 square feet)
Auditorium: Seats 60 for presentations, can be used for receptions and educational programs