The Duke Arts Annex opened its doors this week to students, faculty and Durham residents, creating a buzz around the new meeting place for the campus arts community.
The University created the new space in a 10,000 sq.-ft. former medical storage warehouse located off Burch Avenue and Campus Drive, between Smith Warehouse and the Freeman Center. A key mission of the Arts Annex is to make the arts opportunities on campus more accessible to the undergraduate community, said Caitlin Shaw, coordinator in the University Center Activities and Events.
“We’re hoping to make [the Arts Annex] the central place on campus where students—regardless of whether they are majoring or minoring in the arts—can come and explore their creativity,” Shaw said.
The bustling open house Tuesday evening featured student dance performances and spray paint and photo activities. The center plans to host programs throughout the academic year, which will be open to all Duke students, in order to advertise the opportunities available there, Shaw added.
UCAE director Chris Roby emphasized that the key to the development and success of the arts center is student leadership.
“This step is encouraging dance groups to organize themselves and coordinate their rehearsal times and their own big shows,” Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta added. “One of the great benefits is that it created a community among the arts.”
The Arts Annex will also serve as the new headquarters for duARTS, an umbrella organization for student arts groups, said duARTS President Sarah McCaffery, a senior. She noted that the new center will facilitate the mission of the organization to fortify the undergraduate arts community.
Both Moneta and Roby noted that the Arts Annex will provide a stronghold for the arts community, which will be significant in the planning of the West Union renovations.
“[The Arts Annex] is inspiring us,” Moneta said. “It inspires us to think about what we’re doing in West Union and further the arts opportunities there.”
President Richard Brodhead said that the new arts center demonstrated the University’s ability to innovate.
“It’s really fun that this University can find spaces and transform them into new purposes—seeing the possibility of things where possibility isn’t screaming out,” he noted. “You can be at Duke a long time without any suspicion that this building even exists.”
The new arts center will not only create unity on campus but will also facilitate interaction between Durham and Duke, Roby said.
Isaac Price, Durham resident and president of the Burch Avenue Neighborhood Association—a nonprofit corporation in Durham whose mission is to promote neighbor relations—agreed that residents and students may be able to bond over their interest in arts.
The new arts center is a departure from the decentralized nature of the dance program two years ago, noted junior Jessica Ordax, member of dance group Sabrosura.
“We never really did anything as a dance community until last year with the flash mobs—this center will really help with the unity between the groups,” Ordax said.
She added, however, that the location of the building may make it difficult for students to find the new resources. With increased advertising, however, freshmen will be prompted to check out the annex, and once they find the new space, they will assuredly return, Ordax said.
Sophomore Ellen Brown, a member of the dance program and space coordinator for Duke Dance Council, said she was particularly excited about the creation and layout of two new dance floors in the Arts Annex.
Some students who attended the events emphasized the need for the new building within the Duke community.
“It’s really important for the arts to have this space so [arts groups] can gather and not be scattered across campus,” sophomore Addie Malone said. “We have Krzyzewskiville, so we should have this place as the center of the arts.”