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Fine Arts, Bad Facilities

By Archives February 26, 2008

Concordia’s fine arts students are angry at the university administration because they believe not enough funds have been allocated to the improvement of their facilities.
The Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) and the CSU have been collecting signatures since early February for a petition asking the university, “to stop the mismanagement of funds in fine arts.”
The students don’t agree with the university spending money on a promotional ad campaign aimed at international students, because there are still so many problems that need fixing.
Mathieu Murphy-Perron, VP Loyola and Sustainability for the CSU and a fine arts student, said fixes are necessary on both campuses, including the lack of open studio space and poor ventilation in the EV building. He says that the problems at Loyola – where there are bug infestations and overheating in the FC building, and windows that do not close in the TJ studios – are even worse.
“[Theatre] students are supposed to walk around bare foot in the middle of winter when it is -40 degrees Celsius and the windows won’t shut,” said Murphy-Perron. “We literally have to take masking tape and duck tape the windows shut.”
But arts students say the poor facilities are a problem in the program’s newest building as well. The EV building, on the SGW campus, opened in September 2005. The Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science and the Faculty of Fine Arts share the 17-story structure. Before its completion, Concordia’s approximately 3,300 fine arts students attended class at various locations on both campuses.
While many of those facilities are still used today, the Visual Arts tower of the EV building holds the Dean’s Office, and classrooms for Studio Arts and Art History. It also includes an art gallery and theatre.
Arts students say it’s ironic that the fine arts building has a policy of not allowing students to hang art on its walls. “It’s not an art-displaying building. Just the gallery makes it labelled ‘Fine Arts,'” said Stephanie Dugre, a 20-year-old first-year student majoring in Art History. Dugre said that prohibiting students from hanging their artwork on the walls robs them of the visibility she says is crucial to aspiring artists.
While Perron said the administration has allowed some artwork to be shown, he understands the reasons for their reluctance. “It goes beyond Concordia because the EV is a public building that you can access through the metro, and because it is a public building, you have to be careful with what you put up in there,” said Murphy-Perron.
Students in the Fibre and Print Arts say that noise from the ventilation system is also causing problems in the EV building. “[It’s] to the point where profs and students [can’t] even hear one another across the studio tables,” said Edwin Janzen, president of the Fine Arts Students Alliance last year.
Mary Wong, a professor of Fibre Arts, has resorted to using a Karaoke machine to make herself heard above the noise of the ventilation system. University representatives say they’re trying to find a solution.
“We are still working on some of the ventilation systems and that is an on-going process,” said Faculty of Fine Arts Communications Advisor Ann Tanner-McDonald. “We always try to fix the problems and accommodate students.”
Students say it’s taking too long. “Some progress on the noise has admittedly been made,” said Janzen. “But not nearly enough. Things move all too slowly.”

Students can sign the petition at the CSU and FASA offices, Cafe-X in the EV and the VA and The Hive.