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Stand-alone performing arts center to be built

Corporation approves plan at recent meeting, building will be located opposite Granoff Center

After receiving approval from the Corporation, a new performing arts center is slated to be built in the next four years, said Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, vice president for planning and policy.

The Corporation’s Committee on Facilities and Campus Planning will select an architect for the center, initiating a design and construction process that will take approximately four years, Carey said. The new building will be located opposite the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, he added.

The University “has had a thriving arts scene for years, but we’ve done it in spite of a building,” said Paul Phillips, conductor of the Brown University Orchestra and senior lecturer in music.

Orchestra students complain there isn’t a suitable concert hall for performances, said Irene Tang ’19, who plays violin in the orchestra. Instead, performances must occur in spaces that were not meant to house the arts such as Sayles Hall, a building with “notoriously bad acoustics,” Phillips said.

Comparatively, the new building will “first and foremost have excellent acoustics,” Carey said.

The building will also have a large performance space, rehearsal area, dance studio, acting studio, multiple practice rooms and ample instrument storage space, said Joseph Butch Rovan, director of the Brown Arts Initiative and professor of music.

The building will be different from art centers at other universities because the space will prioritize flexibility and “mirror the collaborative spirit of the arts at Brown,” Rovan said.

Maxwell Naftol ’19, a double bassist in the orchestra, said he would like the new building to have a large stage to encourage collaboration between musical groups like the orchestra and chorus.

Both Rovan and Phillips noted that the new space will increase the University’s artistic pedigree and recruitment abilities. The lack of true performance and practice space is “an obvious lacuna” for prospective students interested in the arts, Rovan said. The project will allow arts at the University “to go to a new level,” he added.

In anticipation of the new performance spaces, the Brown Arts Initiative will implement a “more proactive programming model” for events, starting with a three-year program on “arts and environment,” Rovan said.


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