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Creating Student Performing Arts Hub

Plans are currently underway to create a Performing Arts Hub at Penn. The new hub will serve as the center of operations to support the activities of the Office of Student Performing Arts and member student organizations of The Performing Arts Council (PAC). The hub, to be located in the lower level of Stouffer College House, would centralize office and rehearsal space and offer additional resources for student performance and training operations.

Currently, PAC represents 43 student-run performance organizations including: dance, theatre, music, song, comedy and spoken word; and occupies three administrative offices in the ARCH, 3601 Locust, two offices in the Annenberg Center, and a technical scene and costume shop at 41st and Walnut Sts. Student Performing Arts, an office within the University Life Division, offers a wide range of performance related opportunities to students at Penn.

"Our student performing arts groups reflect a broad spectrum of talent and interests in the arts at Penn," said Provost Robert Barchi. "The Performing Arts Hub affirms the University's commitment to ensure that those groups are provided with the resources and physical space they need to flourish. We are grateful to The Mario Family Fund at the Bessemer National Gift Fund, which has taken the lead by committing its support at the request of the Department of Athletics and Penn Band Director Greer Cheeseman, C '77, as part of the band's current fundraising efforts."

Similar in concept to Civic House and Kelly Writers House, the new Performing Arts Hub will provide 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting, office, rehearsal and work space for the more than 1,200 students actively involved in co-curricular theatre, dance, music, song, comedy and spoken word.

"For Student Performing Arts at Penn, the core principle is that creative expression is an invaluable tool for student self-awareness and development," added Vice Provost for University Life Dr. Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum. "The new hub will serve as a wonderful resource to nurture formal and informal student performing arts initiatives."

According to Student Performing Arts Director Ty Furman, "Penn students spend countless hours in rehearsal and planning for more than 60 shows a year, and having much of that activity centralized allows for the conservation of many resources and new opportunities to build a stronger performing arts community. We also want this space to be a real model for curricular, CO-curricular, and campus collaborations."

In addition to facilitating rehearsal and performance activities, the Office of Student Performing Arts and PAC sponsor programs such as the annual Theatre Arts Council One Acts, and The Emily Sachs Dance benefit performance, which brings all dance groups together for one performance to raise funds for charity. The office staff also facilitates the Jane Wallace Memorial Theatre Internship Award, granting $2,000 to an underclassman to assist him or her in securing a professional theatre internship over one summer. There is also a regular workshop/masterclass series offering professional training opportunities in all disciplines, and the Annual Performing Arts Alumni Career Symposium bringing Penn alumni back to campus each April to speak to students about their careers in the arts.

"It's an exciting prospect to have a place where artists from all different specialties and backgrounds can come together for the development of creative expression," said Jessica Brand, C '04, and PAC executive board member.

The design of the new Performing Arts Hub will offer much needed rehearsal space, a library of resources for performance, training and career opportunities, a cabaret performance space, a bank of computers equipped with design software for music, sound design, set and lighting design and publishing software for posters and programs.

Renovation of the lower level of Stouffer College House is scheduled to begin next winter. A $500,000 lead gift in support of this $2.25 million renovation has already been secured from The Mario Family Fund at The Bessemer National Gift Fund.

Additional donors are currently being sought and naming opportunities are also available. For more information contact Ty Furman, ARCH 112, 3601 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6224, (215) 898-2312 or

  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 32, May 6, 2003