Several courses focused on the arts industry and architecture will be offered for the first time on USF’s St. Petersburg campus starting this fall semester.
Meanwhile, ongoing collaborations across campuses and with community partners have the potential to enrich the curriculum with academic experiences in animation, dance and theater.
These new additions are the start of what leaders in the College of The Arts say will be a sustained expansion of arts programming and opportunities at USF’s St. Petersburg campus.
“Offering these new courses was the initial low-hanging fruit we wanted to get done in the first year of consolidation as we build up partnerships and opportunities among campuses and with the city of St. Petersburg,” said Chris Garvin, dean of USF’s College of The Arts. “Our strategy is to spread offerings across all the campuses and give students the best of both worlds, providing as much of the arts curriculum and allowing flexibility.”
The potential for greater access to resources and expanded learning and research experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students was a prime driver for consolidating the three USF campuses. The expansion of arts programming on the St. Petersburg campus demonstrates that potential coming to fruition.
The arts industry course highlights the role the arts play as an economic engine and is intended to connect students both academically and physically with the local arts community. To do that, the College of The Arts is partnering with staff at the Dali Museum and the new Arts and Crafts Museum both in downtown St Petersburg to host special topics classes.
“A student graduating with a bachelor of fine arts degree is as likely to get a job as someone with a degree in business administration,” Garvin said. “The myth is if you go to school for business you get a job, but if you go to school for arts you move back in with your parents, and that is something we want to debunk.”
The graduate architecture class will bring together practitioners from St. Petersburg and its sister city of Aberdeen, Scotland to collaborate with students to develop urban design solutions. Students enrolled in the graduate course will use St Petersburg’s 2050 Vision and Aberdeen City Centre’s Masterplan as a conceptual foundation for design proposals and will have a dedicated studio space in Harbor Hall.
Around the same time the new art courses are offered, Harbor Hall, the home of the graphic arts program, will open its newly renovated doors with greater gallery and studio spaces and an aesthetically modern environment for students to showcase their work and visitors to appreciate their creative endeavors.
Harbor Hall’s renovation was made possible by a generous $1 million gift from the estate of Josephine Hall. The gift spurred many upgrades that enabled creative and collaborative endeavors.
“It allowed us to develop a plan to meet student needs, such as establishing a computer lab that would better support their design work while also allowing for animation courses on campus one day,” said Jennifer Yucus, USF St. Petersburg campus associate director of the School of Art & Art History.
Other renovations include the incorporation of magnetic display panels in classroom studios and the main corridor to provide a durable, reconfigurable area for two-dimensional art, new monitors with Apple TV connectivity that will enhance design teaching methods and more sustainable LED fixtures to create better white light for display and production of graphic art. Overall, the building now contains five studio spaces along with a public gallery.
“One of the big things our community was asking for was a gallery space so the campus could participate in activities such as art walks,” Yucus said. “Seniors will now have a facility to exhibit their final projects, visitors can now come in and see what students are working on and we hope to host the work of nationally-known designers.”
Beyond the new class offerings and greater gallery space, discussions are underway to develop a concentration in animation at the St. Petersburg campus in the near future. The animation curriculum engages students in the development of both 2D and 3D animation as well as the production of virtual 3D objects for fine art, film, games and visualization.
Talks are also taking place with the Mahaffey Theater to potentially offer theater and music programing for students at the state-of-the-art performing arts facility and concert hall.
“The Tampa Bay region offers a fantastic learning lab for the arts,” Garvin said. “There is a strong museum base, many institutions for dance, music and theater and just a breadth of cultural diversity that few places in the country have for young artists to get their feet wet, start their career and practice their vocation.”
In St. Petersburg, many arts and cultural institutions and design firms are within walking distance of USF’s St. Petersburg campus, providing plenty of learning, internship and job opportunities for students. Which is why, Yucus emphasized, the campus has a prime opportunity to foster greater arts education and contribute to the growing art and design scene in the city.
“We really are in a design hub,” she said. “We have such a unique opportunity to expand our impact and add to the great creative culture of St. Petersburg.”