It’s an old cliché: an art department being underfunded and in desperate needs of the funds they’re lacking.
Here at USD, that cliché rings true. For years the Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts (FA) has been in need of repair and currently, the university is looking for donors to make these much-needed repairs.
If you ask the students, the list of repairs seems to grow each year.
For many students and faculty, the biggest complaint is in regard to size. The more than 320 students, graduate and undergraduate level, that spend most of their time occupying the FA have noted the need for more classroom space, graduate studio space, storage space, faculty and graduate office space.
USD is finally looking into making upgrades to the building and that is a step in the right direction. While yes, it may be easier to find funding for athletics or other high-profile causes, the fact that USD is making an attempt proves that there is an appreciation for the arts that some universities may not have.
However, when it comes down to it, what the fine art students really need is an entirely new building. Yes, renovating the spaces they already have is a good band-aid for the time being, but likely sooner than later, the band-aid is going to need to be addressed.
For instance, visual arts students have studio spaces in Julian Hall. These are supposed to be “temporary studios,” and there are already complaints about the long walks to and from the FA and Julian Hall. With these updates, ideally, all studio spaces will be in a centralized location. The issue of parking is also a topic of conversation. For many older students, walking just isn’t an option each day. Obviously, the solution here is simple, a better parking area surrounding the FA.
We can’t maintain the same size of USD that the university was when it was founded. We need to rethink our facility to be more sustainable for USD’s growth in the long-term, not just adding bits and pieces.
While yes, a completely new building would be costly for the university the fact that space is so limited and facilities are so outdated makes one wonder why these renovations and, hopefully, a new building entirely haven’t been on the docket before now.
Whatever the case may be, USD is making the right move by taking the necessary steps to begin upgrades at the very least. Students and faculty alike are no doubt ecstatic at the possibility of what is to come.