Yes on Question 1 will rehabilitate the Fine Arts Center.
On March 2, Rhode Island voters can help the University of Rhode Island complete major improvements to the Fine Arts Center, which welcomes 50,000 people to campus each year to enjoy plays, concerts and gallery exhibits.
The project, begun about three years ago with $12 million from the General Assembly, would get an infusion of $57.3 million if voters approve Question 1.
The Fine Arts Center, designed in the blocky, monolithic Brutalist style, opened in 1968, and is the home to the more than 5,000 students studying theater, music and arts. Over the years, the building has seen little change, other than a conversion to gas heat and the installation of a fire protection system.
In the last three years, renovations focused on five of the building’s 10 pods, including refacing exterior walls with a brick façade, and upgrading drainage, roofs, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Among the improvements planned with approval of Question 1 are:
- Construction of an 82,000-square-foot main academic building that would house the music and arts departments, updating classroom, rehearsal and studio spaces to deliver hundreds of courses to students. Work is expected to start in summer 2022 and take about two years, creating an estimated 647 construction industry-related jobs.
- New lobby space in front of the Robert E. Will Theatre, the Theatre Department’s largest stage; improved access to J-Studio, the smaller black box theater; updated restrooms to serve the large number of patrons for theater productions; and two new modern acting classrooms.
- Updated art studios and classrooms with improved lighting, and new technical areas for digital art, graphic design, and a range of photographic and video-related media.
- Major changes in the music spaces – new classrooms, practice rooms, faculty studios, recording studios, and a suite for the new music therapy major, where patients could get therapy as students in the program observe them, which would be similar to a real clinical setting.
Fine arts contributes to the RI economy
While what they have learned in the Fine Arts Center has taken many graduates to the national stage, many have settled in Rhode Island. Alumni hold positions, many as leaders, in cultural institutions around the state; teach in local public schools or colleges; share their talents in local galleries, and theater and concert venues.
A number of art students have started their own design and graphic design firms. They also work professionally as photographers, artist studio assistants, videographers, or independent visual artists.