Dear Mr. Gervan Fearon,
With the recent media release concerning the future plan of Rodman Hall, we (the students of Brock University) would like to address the many concerns regarding an implementation of this plan.
Within the media release; (https://brocku.ca/brock-news/2019/04/brock-proposal-sees-a-new-era-for-the-arts-in-downtown-st-catharines/) it is mentioned that the works in Rodman Hall will simply be moved to the 2,000 sq. ft. gallery space within the MIWSFPA (Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts). This is problematic as the current gallery, the VISA Gallery, already houses exhibits showcasing artists within the community, walker cultural leaders, and student work throughout the semester. Rodman hall also holds exhibitions by practicing artists, with the exception of the VISA 4F06 course, year-round. It is worrisome to have the artwork within Rodman Hall moved to the MIWSFPA for both a reduction in gallery space, and for the subsequent competition that will take place between students and already established artists within the community. As students have exhibited within the VISA Gallery as a means to kickstart their career as practicing artists, competing for this space with established artists would work to disadvantaged students who need opportunities, such as solo and group exhibits, to gain experience mandatory for applications to grad school and furthering their career.
Furthermore, the media release discusses plans to display the permentant collection at the MIWSFPA while failing to address where part of the permanent collection will be displayed. As the hallways of the MIWSFPA have been home to art by students, alumni, and faculty alike, would this art be removed and replaced with Rodman Hall’s permanent collection? Replacing these works will remove the opportunity of exposure from Brock alumni and students to have their work seen by current students, recruitment groups, members of the board and members of the public. A common recruitment tool would be to point to any works on display during a tour and proudly announce that a recently graduated student created the work, showcasing the potential of the VISA program for incoming students. With Rodman Hall’s permanent collection competing for this space if the plan is implemented, would this student work no longer be exhibited throughout hallways of the MIWSFPA?
While taking competing space within the MIWSFPA into consideration, we must also consider the ramifications that this plan will have on the VISA 4F06 course. Currently this highly sought after, year long course, gives a small group of accepted students the opportunity to work in individual studios at Rodman Hall. The students work alongside curators, guest artists, and learn viable skills to furthering their art practice. The course concludes with a major exhibition at Rodman Hall, which is often students first major exhibition of their work, kickstarting their career. Many of us, when thinking of choosing Brock, were under the impression that in our final year of study, if we were successful in our acceptance to the VISA 4F06 course, that we would conclude our undergraduate degree with a guaranteed major exhibition. If, according to the proposed plan, all activities are moved to the MIWSFPA, students will lose the chance to work individually with gallery personnel and as well be competing for exhibition space within the 2,000 sq. ft. VISA Gallery.
The difference in size between both Rodman Hall and the Visa Gallery are great. In past VISA 4F06 exhibitions, students have had the freedom to create work on a grand scale, from large paintings and sculpture work, to complex installations. With a lack of space, this creativity would be stunted, only working to disadvantaged students.
Additionally within the media release, it is outlined that the university will create a new culture commons with up to 7,000 sq. ft. for use by both arts organizations and community partners. The plan does not state how such a space would directly benefit students. Additionally, the plan fails to outline how the creation of this space will be implemented. As the university has suffered a $15.4 million budget shortfall, building a new space would be unrealistic. Likewise, associated costs with obtaining and renovating pre-existing spaces will also prove to be costly. The media release outlines that Brock will continue to provide financial support to Rodman Hall for the duration of its contractual obligations until 2023. As the university would continue to contractually provide financial support to Rodman Hall, whilst finding ways to rectify the $15.4 million budget shortfall, the creation of a new cultural hub is not feasible at the present moment.
This neatly presented plan within the media release is far more complex than surface value, and we will not be taken at surface value. For the integrity of the visual arts program, and the arts within St. Catharines, we demand that Rodman Hall, its exhibitions, and the VISA 4F06 course be preserved for generations to come.
Chardon Trimble-Kirk, Visual Arts: Studio Art, Third Year
Shania Thompson, Visual Arts: Studio Art, Third Year
Angelina Turner, Concurrent Education, Third Year
Abby Dellandrea, Concurrent Education, Third Year
Brianne Casey, Visual Arts: Studio Art, Third Year
Kaitlyn Roberts, Visual Arts: Studio Art, Third Year
Madison Simpson, Game Programing and Design, First Year
Bre Mark, Dramatic Arts, First Year
Lindsay Allen, Visual Arts: Studio Art, Third Year
Hope Johnstone, Visual Arts: Studio Art, Second Year
Emma Mary Sked Hutchison-Hounsell, Visual Arts: Studio Art, Fifth Year
Avrie Coney, Visual Arts: Studio Art, Second year
Mel Richardson, Concurrent Education, Third Year
Rachel McCartney, Visual Arts: Studio Art, Third Year
Deanna Swann, Political Science & Sociology, Fourth Year
Jordan Grande, English Major Alumni
Lindsay-Ann Chilcott: Studio Art, Second Year
Miranda Farrell: 2016 Studio Art and 4F06 Alumni
Lucas Marshall, Sociology & Labour Studies, Second Year
Julia Ford, Community Recreation & Child and Youth Studies, Second Year
Jonny Malley, Concurrent Education, Second Year.
Mohini Rathod, Medical Science, Second Year.
Alyssa Sweitzer: Visual Arts and Concurrent Education, First Year
Jimmy Huynh, Public Health, First Year
Andrea Young, Biological sciences, First year
Joshua Arcari, Bachelor of Film and Television, Sheridan College, Second Year
Garrett Gullett, Sociology, Fourth Year
Chelsey Dugan, Kinesiology, Second year
Atita imonikhe, women and gender studies, first year
Syerra Jasmin, Visual Arts and Classical Studies stream, BaH year 4
Cayla Wills, Concurrent Education (I/S), Fourth Year
Megan Favero, Visual Arts: Studio Art, 2nd year
Arin Yaldizciyan, Computer Science: 3rd Year
Kat Twigg, Recreation and Leisure: 4rd Year
Sonam Singh, Political Science Alumni
Samantha Stein, Concurrent Education (I/S) & BA visual arts, 4th Year
Amy Morrison, Sociology, Second Year
Sarah Cunningham, Child and Youth Studies, 4th year
Madi Maguire, Psychology, 2nd Year
Lumen Beaver, Studio Art, 3rd Year
Samantha Thompson, Medical Science, 4th year
Sara Jansen, Dramatic Arts Alumni
Kevin Langlois, Civil Engineering Technologist, 3rd Year
Mirna Raouf, Medical Science, 4th year
Teresa Badgley, visual arts: studio art, fifth year
Elisabeth Cutler, Psychology, 1st year
Gianna-Luisa Aceto, Studio Art, 5th Year
Olivier Fontaine, history, 3rd year
Renz Fernandez Baluyot l, Visual Arts, 5th Year
Defne Inceoglu, Alumni, BA History of Arts and Visual Culture
Chelsea Dietrich, Visual Arts, 5th Year
Georgena Hill, Alumni, BA of Arts
Nikkita Campbell, Recreation and Leisure, 3rd year
Alyssia Leithwood, Physical Education, 2nd Year
Emily Young, Concurrent Education, 2nd Year
Ben Mosher, 2015, Studio Art Alumni.
Elizabeth Hayden, Alumni
Carrie Perrault, Alumni