The Fine Arts building has seen many changes during the last year due to COVID-19 — changes such as smaller ensembles, livestreamed performances and limited audiences.
Before COVID-19, Bruce Kelley, dean of the College of Fine Arts, said the building was lively and had frequent performances.
Although the departments have tried to continue with performances, Kelley said audiences were the biggest challenge.
“The biggest change was that we had to limit or eliminate audiences, which was a fundamental change in how art happened,” Kelley said.
Classes had to be changed to accommodate less students while still following social distancing guidelines. Kelley said teachers got creative with how classes and practices were held by being in different rooms or being online.
“In ceramics, in a normal year, all the pottery wheels are just kind of lined up next to each other,” Kelley said. “Well, the professor, Michael Hill, had to just look at the room and say ‘Okay, each wheel has to be six feet away from the next one.’ We had to do the same thing with the room where drawing is taught, they have easels that they use so we had to make sure that there was room for each of the easels to be six feet apart.”
David Holdhusen, the chair of the music department and the director of choral activities, said the teachers will decide what worked specifically for their classes during COVID and if those are worth bringing into a normal school environment for next year.
“I think our emphasis on excellence on artistic excellence is going to stay the same as it always has,” Kelley said. “I think the two things that we’re most likely to keep are some type of streaming and the music in the park concert that happened in October.”
Returning to normal is what Holdhusen wants, but he said teachers are going to have to find a level they are comfortable with when teaching. He said this will be more of a mental game than anything since the last year has been spent focused on COVID-19.
“I think it’s more about finding a comfort level in returning to these more traditional teachings,” Holdhusen said. “I think the majority of what we were doing was preparing for this year and I feel like almost on a weekly basis there were things that were changing and that we were trying to adjust and we were adjusting to the science. We were adjusting to the COVID numbers on campus.”
Although the Fine Arts plan on going back to normal next year, they will still follow the regulations of other professional organizations. They will continue to monitor the situation and make decisions based on data to keep students safe.