On the coattails of last semester’s student-led initiative to improve music spaces on campus, two students in the music department are now spreading a petition advocating that more space in the proposed Digital Media and Innovation Center be allocated for digital audio recording purposes.

In speaking to David Bendes and Andrew Polec — the fifth year seniors who co-authored the petition as a part of their Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year (KEY) project  — however, it becomes clear that their goals reach considerably further than that.

According to Executive Director of Campus Planning, Design and Construction Management Jose Fernandez, approximately 5,400 square feet of the new building will be devoted to media arts in some form. Fernandez said it would be difficult to assess the exact division of this space between the digital arts and audio recording because, as he put it, “the building is being designed to minimize single purpose space and maximize flexible space.”

Yet this description of the building’s purpose is right in line with the ideal vision Bendes and Polec have for the available space.

“In a perfect world, this would be the ultimate place to make a live music video — to record it, film it, everything,” Bendes said.

“We’re really trying to say that if you make the space a little larger … then you can make it an optimal space for both groups.”

More quantifiably, Bendes and Polec expressed that they would like to see recording studios that are large enough for multi-instrumental recording and of a higher quality than the current one on campus  — WRUR’s studio — which, as Polec put it, “is in a meat locker.”

Bendes revealed that the petition currently has  between 200 and 300 signatures, putting him and Polec over halfway to their goal of 400 to 450.

In terms of how effective this petition could be, Dean of the College Richard Feldman emphasized that evidence of student interest is factored into space considerations, especially with student-centered buildings like the proposed Digital Media and Innovation Center.

“If we know that there is a large number of students who have a certain kind of interest, in this case a certain kind of recording ability, and we lack the facilities to meet their needs, we’ll be responsive to the extent we can do that,” Feldman said.

He went on to say that at the current stage in the planning process for the building, “it’s still conceivable that some changes could be made.”

Dean of Humanities Thomas DiPiero, who is leading the charge in terms of sorting out space allocation in the new building, said that its planning committee shares “the tremendous interest in music that students have been expressing,” and that they are “committed to making full provisions for space as needs arise.”

Gaining more space for audio recording, however, is just one aspect of a larger set of initiatives already put into motion by Polec and Bendes’ KEY project. Overall, the aim of the project is to create a means for both musicians and non-musicians to study the business of music on campus.

This manifests into two shorter-term goals — to create a track within the music major and a new minor focused on the business of music — and one long-term goal, which is the eventual creation of a separate business of music major.

Both Bendes and Polec have done considerable benchmarking with the music business programs at peer institutions and found that, between classes that already exist through the Simon School of Business, the engineering department, the Eastman School of Music and the River Campus music department, the course structure at UR is primed for such a major to come into existence.

The main element that is missing here is a core business of music course, something they aim to create through their KEY project.

Polec emphasized that the plan is to lay the framework for these advancements this semester, so that they can continue to grow after he and Bendes move on from UR.

“This is entrepreneurship; you build up a business, you build up an idea, you sell it and then you move on,” Polec said. “We have a great music faculty and loads of interested students who can continue to help push this plan forward.”

Fleming is a member of the class of 2013.



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