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RIT to create a School of Performing Arts

Spoon River Anthologies
Mike Guinto
Dancers perform in a 2020 production of “Spoon River Anthologies,” one of several offerings by Rochester Institute of Technology and National Technical Institute for the Deaf students.

Rochester Institute of Technology announced Friday that it is creating a School of Performing Arts.

The new school will be housed within RIT’s College of Liberal Arts beginning July 1, and a national search is underway for a director.

The university said that in addition to using faculty and staff already involved in performing arts at RIT, there will be new hires to expand that effort.

Anna Stenport, dean of RIT’s College of Liberal Arts said the new School of Performing Arts will offer unique opportunities, focusing on advancing the talents of students strong in STEM fields who may not be majoring in the arts.

Stenport said that technology can be interwoven with this arts program, such as providing AR/VR performances of Shakespearian tragedies, or motion-capture dance choreography.

“Performance and music are now fully integrated with technology, from composition and audio-engineering to electronic theater sets and immersive environments,” Stenport said.

RIT officials noted that the university has been investing in facilities including a large, black-box theater, and a dance instruction and performance and musical rehearsal studios. A 750-seat performing arts theater will debut in early 2024, with a 1,500-seat orchestra hall to be added later.

RIT currently offers minors in areas such as music performance and theatre arts, and officials said that future academic ventures may include enhanced emphasis on dance, interactive media, audio engineering and theater technology.

RIT President David Munson expects thousands of their students from all disciplines to be involved in performing arts within just a few years.

“More broadly, we envision an education where engineers and scientists pursue performance, techies tackle the humanities, and artists learn to code,” Munson said. “This is about fostering curiosity, discovery, innovation, and teamwork. This is about maximizing talent, living a whole life, and not hiding your light under a bushel basket.”

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
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