The often-neglected faculty of fine arts received a new lab last week. Located on the sixth floor of the Art Parkade, the new Integrated Arts Media Lab was officially opened Tues. Sept. 12 and was enjoyed by a large reception of students and faculty.
Media company NBC Universal Canada donated $100,000 to the FFA last March, and the university leveraged another $175,000 from the government and internal sources for a total of $275,000. The hi-tech lab features 11 Mac Pro Quad Core computers with 23" displays, 88-key music keyboards, high resolution scanners, a 44" wide format colour printer, a portable 8-channel audio system and top-of-the-line multimedia software.
Anthony Reimer, head technician for the IAML, believes the new lab is among the best in Canada, giving the U of C a technical edge over other schools. But he also noted that upgrading the software and keeping the multimedia up-to-date is going to be expensive.
"What the FFA needs is the next Ted and Lola Rozsa," Reimer said, referring to the generous $3.5 million donated to various causes, including the Rozsa Centre, by the philanthropist couple.
The FFA has been hit hard in past years by budget cuts which have resulted in difficulties replacing retirees, said Reimer. While faculties like the Haskayne School of Business and the Schulich School of Engineering appear to be gaining strong financial support, the FFA has been trying to find space for its courses.
Reimer hopes the new lab will give the faculty an opportunity to show the university and community what it's made of, and hopefully attract more financial support.
"If the professors do nothing in this space, then [the IAML] will become a white elephant," said Reimer, who hopes the new lab will be used by students and instructors in art, photography, film, music, drama and even dance.
The money will also support hiring a new professor of digital arts, Jean-Rene Leblanc, whose expertise in digital media will hopefully push the FFA to do more. Students have already responded very positively to the new professor, who provided some great digital demonstrations at the grand opening event, said Reimer.
"I came to the U of C because their vision was to create a new interdisciplinary digital arts program, and I liked how they were combining the traditional arts with the new digital technologies to help create the artist of the future," said Leblanc.