A late scheduling change has left some student arts groups frustrated over limited rehearsal times, reduced practice spaces and delayed communication with Duke administration.
In years prior, the annual O-Show, an inaugural performance of Duke’s seven a cappella groups, was held on the first day of classes. Junior Alex Pieroni, president of the Duke A Cappella Council says that groups go “all out in their preparation [for O-Show] … everything from new original arrangements, to choreo organized by group members.”
This year, Duke pushed the O-Show to Sept. 3, the Sunday after the first week of classes, in a change that was only communicated to junior Alex Pieroni, president of the Duke A Cappella Council, in “late June, early July.”
Historically, the O-Show’s earlier start date allowed members of Duke’s a cappella groups to move in early and rehearse before classes began.
Now, the members are no longer allowed to move in early and must rehearse while classes are in session. Rehearsals can take up to eight hours per day.
Limitations on available rehearsal hours are not the only issue revealed by the scheduling change — the groups will also have to compete for Duke’s limited available practice spaces. The pushback of the O-Show date means that the rehearsal window now conflicts with that of the Duke Dance Council, which has their Fall Showcase on Sept. 2, the day before the O-Show.
According to junior Harrison Pak, president of Duke Dance Council, there are only three main rehearsal spaces on campus that can accommodate larger groups.
“That ends up being around 26 teams having to share basically three spaces open during normal business hours,” Pak said.
Pieroni explained that although there were space limitations last year, Duke’s a cappella groups were still able to find sufficient rehearsal space because the dance groups were on a different timeline. Now, availability for spaces has been reduced to around 10 hours per group from a previous 20, according to Pieroni.
In an email to The Chronicle, Ben Adams, director of new student and family programs, denied the assertion that there were limited available practice spaces.
“Students can still book and reserve space using the same process they have in the past,” he wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “Space is no longer available during Experiential Orientation which is to accommodate the 21 orientation projects that take place all over campus throughout the week; but beyond that, the same process is in place.”
Marcy Edenfield, senior vice president of venue and production management, added in an email to The Chronicle that student leaders submitted their rehearsal needs on Friday and “have been accommodated.”
Communication with Duke
The two councils’ leaders also expressed a lack of timely communication with Duke, amplifying some of their concerns.
“I would like to give a sense of personal frustration. We would send two or three follow-up emails and not get anything back,” Pak said. He also noted that Duke Venues went on a “month-long hiatus” during the summer where they did not respond to emails.
Adams explained that the scheduling change was part of a broader shift for a new program called Welcome Weeks to “highlight and showcase to incoming students the wide range of opportunities available at Duke.”
The new program will consist of five themed weeks, including an Arts Week. The O-Show and the Fall Showcase are therefore taking place on the first weekend of Arts Week, which the “student leaders responsible for these showcases requested,” according to Adams.
“The concerns are natural as we try something new, and we'll gladly receive and incorporate the feedback as we live into the new model,” Adams wrote. “However, people also appreciate the significant emphasis we're placing on the arts this year. We're shining a spotlight on arts opportunities at Duke in the second week.”
However, Pieroni feels that Duke Arts, which is run by Duke administration, is trying to “operate in tandem and incorporate themselves” into Arts Week while having “very little communication” with the affected student groups.
“I love the idea of doing an Arts Week, but an Arts Week doesn’t work unless you have the infrastructure to support all of the arts happening at one time,” he added.
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Jazper Lu is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.