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Drawing studio converted to second dance studio    


During summer break this year, Viterbo’s only drawing studio was converted into a dance studio. This new dance studio includes a shiny wood floor. It also includes beams surrounding the floor and large mirrors on the walls.  


Emma Phillips is a senior music theatre major with a dance minor. “It’s a beautiful studio. They put a lot of money into it. But I think that there were other places on campus that could have been the dance studio, and I don’t know why we needed to pull from the arts floor,” states Phillips.  


Andrew Sherman, a senior art student shares his thoughts: “I have mixed opinions about the dance studio because I think that it’s a good space for dance students to use, and I’m happy that they have that space. At the same time, I think taking away spaces from students who already have a limited amount of space, particularly art students, is a negative thing. This same resource which dance students need to learn, art students need. The taking away from any one group is something which I think we should avoid.” Because of the new dance studio, art students may feel they should not have to lose their space to create because another fine arts program is growing.   


Academic Vice President, Tonya Wagner, commented on making the hard decision of converting the drawing studio to a dance studio, “I wanted to make sure folks know that I was the one who made the final decision and gave my recommendation to President Rick. This was one of the most challenging leadership decisions I have had to make as there was no easy answer. After receiving the recommendation from the space planning committee, I sought to investigate and find any other possible option for the dance studio. I sought the expertise of facilities and our construction partners to find an alternative solution. After all the considerations, I settled on accepting the recommendation from the space committee to move forward with the drawing studio.” 


When asked about being able to make this decision fairly while looking at both the needs of the arts and dance programs, Executive Artistic Director of the Conservatory for the Performing Arts, Rick Walters responded, “Well, I think so. I don’t know if it’s perceived as so. We had conversations at various levels with the academic vice president and Michael Alfieri, who’s the dean and part of the ECAS area. So, there were conversations there. There were some conversations with Rick Trietley. So, there were multiple points of conversation about what that would mean for art.”  


In an email comment, College of Engineering, Letters, and Sciences Dean Michael Alfieri stated he was not part of the entire process: “… I was brought into the conversation after decisions were made, given I had just started in my new role as dean.”   


Many factors were considered when changing this space.  When Academic Vice President Tonya Wagner was asked about the considerations in changing the space, she responded, “There was a program expansion plan for music theatre that was based on a lot of interest in music theatre, but we had some serious considerations. Music theatre is a relatively expensive program to deliver, but we wanted to be able to meet the needs of more students and create a more robust program. So, we knew that in the process of expanding that program that there would be a need for some additional infrastructure build as well.” 


Art students may feel the university is favoring dance, music, and theatre programs. When asked what would be said to the art students who feel the university is disinvesting in the art program, Wagner replied, “I don’t think it’s a disinvestment, but it’s putting resources for students who are taking courses. So again, going back to the Space [Allocation] Committee, it feels a little bit calculating, but the use of space does matter. And so having spaces, we as a university, do need to attract students.”  


She added, “I wish there were more students who were attracted to art in our minors. There are not as many students who are attracted to art, and that’s just a reality that’s external to us. I would hate to think that any individual will feel like we’re not investing in art.” 


Alfieri later added similar comments: “We are still working on finding a new space or renovating other available spaces for the drawing studio on the third floor near the other art classrooms. We are also working with the Conservatory students and faculty to determine best practices for using the third floor together.”  

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About the Contributor
Gretchen Cortez
Gretchen Cortez, Arts and Entertainment Editor
I'm a 5th year senior from La Crosse Wisconsin. My major is Ethics, Culture, and Society with a focus in...
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