Dear Chair Burden and Commissioners,
As a member of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts faculty, I would like to stress to the Board the very real need for increased and improved academic space in order for us to continue to serve our students and remain competitive as a school. I share many of the concerns of my fellow faculty members with regard to assuring that the NYU 2031 Master Plan is developed with sensitivity to the needs of our community, respect for open and recreational space, and assurances that the plan contributes to the life of Greenwich Village as well as the university.
The technological needs of other areas of our department, with regard to scenic and lighting design, is woefully behind the times and completely inadequate for training 21st Century designers. Our chair, Susan Hilferty, could elaborate on all of this more thoroughly than I.
As a member of the Department of Design for Stage and Film, I can tell you that for us, the space issue has reached critical mass. The Tisch school has had a 300% increase in our student population but a 0% increase in space. I would say that for us in Design, and I think I can also speak for Graduate Acting as well as the Dance Department in this regard, we have actually lost space.
Every year the Design Department costume shop makes/rents/purchases/uses from stock almost 700 costumes. We once had 650 square feet of costume storage. We now have less than 400 square feet. We are always working on at least two and sometimes four or five productions simultaneously. I teach class in our costume shop at the same time our staff is also working on these productions, which is confusing and chaotic. If our students are working on a class film project we have to have them store their costumes in the basement, as there is absolutely not enough rack space for everything when we are full tilt on 4 shows at once. It is not just that we lack adequate space, but that the space we have is not serving the educational needs and goals of our program. With space that is designed to suit the curriculum, we could introduce craft, wig, hair, and makeup areas for the student designers working on production. Our storage areas would be more efficient. Our shop space could be dedicated work space. We could conduct classes in a separate lab that was well equipped with both the tools they need and access to our research and study collections of books, fabrics, antique garments and photos. I could go on and on with more specific examples but I am sure you see my point.
Currently we have, in my opinion, the best theater design department in the country. Our faculty is outstanding and we have always been able to attract the best students in our field. But our facilities are not keeping up with their needs, and we will not retain this superior status indefinitely without a serious improvement in our resources. Dean Campbell has been a tireless champion for us, both within and beyond the university. This plan as I see it, still needs work, and input from the constituents involved will create a better plan in the long run. But as you contemplate NYU 2031, and even as we respect the needs of the community at large and the NYU community, I hope we will also keep paramount in our minds how Tisch will equip itself to train our future generations of artists and scholars.
Thank you on behalf of our students for your consideration of this important matter.