Taft building to house the arts


Caroline Derksen, Staff Writer

The Taft Building is currently under construction as it is transferred into an arts center.

UVM received a five million dollar donation from UVM alumna Michele Resnick Cohen ’72 and her husband Martin Cohen, according to an April 27 Burlington Free Press article.

Professor of Art and Art History and associate dean of UVM’s College of Arts and Sciences, Kelley Di Dio, said its an expansion of the programs UVM already has.

One major part of this expansion is to provide a space for dance, Di Dio said. “We’ll also have space for film and television studies and arts programs that we just don’t currently have.”

“[The arts are] definitely shoved aside a lot,” said senior Maddie Friberg, UVM TV station manager. “Our studio is shoved in a basement on Christie and Patterson on Redstone Campus — we need a studio space and we need a place to film things.”

Di Dio said that the Taft Building isn’t just going to be for majors or minors that are in the arts.

“I hope that even if you’re not an art major, this can be an open space for all students,” Friberg said. “I hope that people will join organizations like this.”

One major part of the building will be the expansion of classrooms.

“There will be some classrooms in Taft that are general-purpose classrooms,” Di Dio said. “A positive part of that is that it will get students that may not ordinarily interact with the arts into the building and see the work that the art students are producing.”

While the vision of this building is for the arts programs, Friberg is concerned whether that vision will follow through.

“I hope they utilize it well,” Friberg said. “My biggest concern is that they will just make more generic classrooms out of it because there is a classroom shortage on campus right now. Hopefully they make it generally dedicated to arts programs and make it something that professors and students need.”

The five million dollar donation helped put this project into action, said vice president for University Relations and Administration Tom Gustafson.

So far, the University has not encountered any issues in reconstruction, he said.

“It’s an old building so it needs some work,” Gustafson said. “For instance, we had to fix the roof up a bit, but in the end it’s just like reconstructing any other building,” Gustafson said.

Construction is expected to be completed by all 2018, according to the Burlington Free Press article.