UR boasts a number of different performance groups, all of which require particular spaces in which to practice. Each group has different needs and therefore has a preference for which space they would like to use. This year, however, some groups were given one of two new practice spaces in O’Brien Hall. Although the new space is helpful for student groups as a whole, it does not suit the needs of all performance groups. Even so, the University still scheduled performance groups to use these rooms, a decision which has created frustration among groups that were not properly accomodated.
For example, Louvre Performance Ensemble, a dance group which has a need for a large space to practice in because of the size of the organization and the nature of the dances it performs, requested rehearsal space in Spurrier Dance Studio where they also hold shows, but were instead given space in the new studio in O’Brien, a room which does not fully suit its needs and is simply not large enough to accommodate the group.
Ballet Performance Group (BPG) found itself in a similar situation. Although they currently practice their larger dances in the May Room and Leibner-Cooper Room (formerly the MAC Room), they were also given the space in O’Brien.
Given space constraints on the River Campus, it is understandable that not all groups will always be able to receive the rooms they request, but it is a disservice to organizations when they are given a space which they cannot practice properly in. The new room in O’Brien has the potential to alleviate some of these space issues, but it is not adequate for all performance groups and should not be assumed as such.
Despite these problems, one positive aspect of the addition of the space in O’Brien is that the administration no longer offers Bridge Lounge as an option for practice space. This area was never intended to be used as a rehearsal space, and for good reason — it is structurally unsound and often shakes when groups dance there. Additionally, the background noise in Wilson Commons can be distracting to the organizations there practicing, while the organizations can easily disturb students studying in the area.
The addition of this new space in O’Brien was a laudable move by the University to provide more space for performance groups on campus, but the room should only be given to those groups that can utilize that space in an effective manner and not to those that are inconvenienced by it.