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OSU Sees Arts District As New Front Door To Campus, Benefit For Students And Community

Ohio State University's Arts District continues to take shape. Faculty and students held a recent update on the nearly $162 million project, which features new facilities in the area of 15th and 18th avenues along College Road. The university envisions the Arts District becoming the new front door of campus and furthering a multidisciplinary approach that will benefit students and the broader Columbus community. 

New facilities for the School of Music and the Department of Theatre, Film, and Media Arts mark the highlights of Ohio State University's Arts District. The new Timashev Family Music Building will connect to a renovated Weigel Hall and feature a 195-seat recital room. Other improvements include better acoustics, studios for jazz and percussion, and more practice rooms for students. The new Theatre, Film, and Media Arts building will have state-of-the-art performance and creative spaces. It'll bring performances to the Arts District rather than the Drake Center, a good 20 to 30 minute walk away. Sergio Soave, Associate Executive Dean of Facilities and Planning for Ohio State's College of Arts and Sciences, has been working on the Arts District project for six years. 

"We're 80 percent to an Arts District before we even build these two buildings in that we have the Wexner Center and Mershon, but this location helps us organize it a bit better," Soave said. "Those buildings actually connect visually and physically with the other buildings around them. There's a density that creative people get fueled by. So creating something within the campus that really promotes that and isn't a mile and a half walk to get between theatre and music is really important." 

Recent studies indicate a correlation between combining more than one field of study and achievement according to Rachel Skaggs, Lawrence and Isabel Barnett Assistant Professor of Arts Management with OSU's Department of Arts, Administration, Education, and Policy.

"If we're trying to have artists have successful careers, multidisciplinary practice and collaboration is one of the big indicators of a successful, durable career in the Arts," Skaggs said. "In Ohio, the creative industries represent $41 billion in economic activity and almost 300,000 jobs. So when I think about having an Arts District where you have theatre and dance and multidisciplinary practice being not only encouraged and but even accidentally happening through the happenstance of co-location, that makes me excited about what that means for that bottom line and those statistics about our arts graduates going into the world and being posed for success." 

Nadine George-Graves, Chair and Professor of OSU's Department of Dance, sees the district as having a broader effect on the community.  

"I think about arts districts as creating a home for folks, a third space for folks," George-Graves continued. "Both for students and faculty, but also members of the community, neighborhoods, school children and teachers. You gravitate toward this district where things are happening."

Jacob Athyal, MFA Acting ‘21, envisions a greater collaboration with students outside the Arts. 

"I'm not from America, and the good thing of being an immigrant is you get this outside perspective on the country," Athyal said. "America loves stories so much. We elect presidents based on stories. We define people based on stories. The one thing we're great in the Arts at is storytelling. This is one of those perfect places where business majors can come in and grow off us, and we can grow off of marketing students and students from the med schools because we are also looking for new stories to tell and new people to collaborate with." 

The university expects to begin using the music building in late 2022, and the new theatre the following year.

Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. Foley has worked in various roles, from producing news and feature stories to engineering Live From Studio A sessions. A series of music features Foley started in 2018 called Music Journeys has grown into a podcast and radio show. He also assists in developing other programs in WCBE's Podcast Experience. Foley hosts The Morning Mix, a weekday music show featuring emerging and established musicians, our Columbus-area and Ohio-based talent, and additional artists that inspire him.