The halls of Strong Auditorium have been filled with music, speakers and cultural events since its construction in 1930. Unfortunately, not enough has been done in the past 72 years to keep the now-dilapidated building up to par as a performance space or even a lecture hall.
Student performers were not surprised to hear of Janet Reno’s fainting incident on the stage ? which was caused in part by “unusually warm conditions” in Strong, according to a press release by Strong Memorial Hospital. Many of these students practice and perform in the grueling heat. With an outdated heating system and a nonexistent cooling system, the conditions on stage can be brutal to healthy college students, let alone any visiting guests.
Problems with using the hall as a musical performance space also include complaints of banging heating pipes during performances, acoustics that swallow any performer’s sound, an old and damaged temporary acoustical shell and inadequate sound isolation between Upper Strong and other areas of the building.
Despite these issues, the music department is forced to still use the space and little has been done to fix the actual problems with the building. Over the past two years, renovations have been done but the problems have not been fixed. Instead, the paint and upholstery have only covered up the more serious problems with the building.
River Campus students deserve to have a space where they can perform music and theater without having to fight out-dated wiring and a lack of dressing rooms. However, renovating Strong is not the answer to this problem.
Instead, UR needs to re-establish its commitment to the arts and develop a comprehensive plan that will provide adequate space for practice, rehearsal and performance of theater, music and dance. Changes need to be made that will provide venues appropriate for concerts, musical theater and dramatic stage productions as well as rehearsal space.