Following a new policy in the fall banning a cappella groups from the Bernhard Music Center (BMC) spaces, the administration, in partnership with College Council (CC), the Office of Student Life and the music department, is developing an amended policy that will allow the groups to resume use of these spaces if they agree to meet certain specifications.
Last fall, a cappella groups were notified that they could no longer use the BMC, which includes Chapin and Brooks-Rogers, for rehearsals or performances. “These spaces are in fact designated as music department spaces [and] their primary usage is as a space for that department to run their operations out of,” said Benjamin Lamb, assistant director for student involvement. “In total, there are about 500 individuals making use of the music department spaces for department-related activities, which puts a big strain on the space in general.”
The policy originated because though a cappella groups are prominent on campus, they are still student organizations, and events and groups affiliated with academic departments take priority in the use of these spaces. Additionally, construction on Chapin resulted in greater scheduling conflicts, influencing the decision to restrict a cappella groups’ use of the building.
There were also concerns about the appropriate usage of these spaces and the potential for damage to expensive equipment, particularly during performances. “Something that has a grand piano in it already has certain kinds of vulnerabilities that a classroom just doesn’t have,” Dean Bolton said.
Over the past semester, a cappella groups advocated for a return to these spaces with the support of CC, ultimately accepting restrictions on such use. “Realistically, there are no other spaces on campus that work well acoustically or logistically for a cappella groups,” said Peter Skipper ’13, CC co-president and a member of the Springstreeters. “College Council’s goal was to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement in which groups would be able to use the music building, provided that certain requirements be met.”
The two main requirements developed are a new scheduling system, in which a cappella groups will work directly with Lamb rather than with the music department to reserve spaces, and the addition of a trained event manager at every performance. Department-affiliated events will be given priority during scheduling at the beginning of each semester and a cappella groups will have the opportunity to schedule during the remaining slots. The responsibilities of the event manager will include managing “lights, movement of equipment on and off stage before and during the event and post-concert stage set up,” said Steve Klass, vice president for campus life.
For this semester, the agreement concerns performances only. If the process goes smoothly, it may be expanded to allow a cappella groups to hold rehearsals in the BMC in the future.