The University of Rochester is poised to open its first building on the River Campus designed to serve the performing arts. The three-story Sloan Performing Arts Center is expected to be fully functional by the end of the year.
At 30,000 square feet, the center is dedicated to theater, dance and music. It will house a 200-seat black box theater, an atrium, a café, a green room, a scene shop, a costume shop, a box office, dressing rooms and a conditioning room, in addition to other amenities, UR officials say. Each space aims to foster creative expression, skill building and community activity.
The Sloan Center, Todd Union and Strong Auditorium now form a performing arts corridor on campus, supporting creativity including rehearsals, performances and set and costume production. UR recently had a soft opening for the site.
“We’ve needed this additional space on campus for some time now, and because of the vision, dedication, and leadership of the Sloans and others, we can now offer a beautiful, thoughtfully designed, contemporary building that will nurture our students’ creative pursuits,” says Gloria Culver, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at UR.
University Life Trustee Thomas Sloan and Linda Sloan, his wife, donated to the project. Other lead supporters include Ed Smith and Andy Lopata Smith, Brian Prince, Drew Mittelman and Maureen Adducci, Diane Waldgeir Perlberg and Mark Perlberg, Richard Leibner and Carole Cooper Leibner.
“Everything that will happen within these walls—on stage, behind the scenes, and in the hearts and minds of audience members—will be a catalyst for creativity, community, and collaboration,” says Thomas Sloan, a retired business executive and patron of the arts. “We are excited that this new building will help enrich students’ lives and their overall experience on the River Campus.”
The entrance to Sloan Center features mosaic art by Los Angeles-based artist Jay Yan. More than 7,820 mirrored stainless steel discs—13 different types—are folded to reflect and shine in different ways from various angles. Dandelions, a UR icon, figure prominently in the design. Yan spent a week at UR last month, assembling the work of art. It is the largest piece Yan has created.
“It’s quite visible from a distance, and you have different levels of experience as you come closer,” Yan says.
Currently, UR students who pursue degrees in theater, dance, and music participate in more than 40 performing arts-based clubs on the River Campus, including 20 cocurricular dance groups, officials say. They take part in the International Theatre Program, which typically offers four productions annually and two smaller works. The college also offers many musical performances and more than 100 music classes to undergraduates.
“Our students embrace theater, dance, and music, just as they do physics, philosophy, and anthropology, and so many other areas of study,” Culver says. “That’s part of the magic here at Rochester—our students can pursue their academic and cocurricular passions and be part of an environment that supports exploration, growth, and imagination. The Sloan Center will be a great addition to campus—a center for joy, inspiration, and connection.”
On Sept. 21, the Program of Dance and Movement will host a Fringe Festival open mic-style event, Lobby Ad-Libs, in the Brian F. Prince Atrium. In early December, the International Theatre Program will present “Stupid Fucking Bird” by Aaron Posner, directed by Nigel Maister, the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Director in the Ed and Andy Smith Theater.
“Theater, music, and dance provide distinct ways for people to come together—they offer inspiration, and they help us feel alive,” says Linda Sloan, who has been actively involved in the arts. “This new building provides an additional space on campus where more of this can happen—we are honored to be a part of it.”
Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor.