The University of Otago has announced plans to build a $26million facility for music and performing arts days ahead of an announcement expected to deliver widespread job cuts. The project would be completed by 2019 and include a new building beside the Robertson Library in Union St East and the refurbishment of the music suite, teaching wing and tower block at the College of Education campus. Use of the university's existing recording studio on Albany St has been restricted to staff and students since the discovery of asbestos in May last year.
University of Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said the need for the project and a review of university staff ''highlights the dilemma faced by universities worldwide''.''It's not an either-or choice. ''If universities provide run-down facilities, they are less attractive to students and world-class academics, who are the lifeblood of every university in an extremely competitive global marketplace.'' Prof Hayne is expected to announce plans for job cuts during a meeting that will be live-streamed to campuses around New Zealand tomorrow.The announcement comes amid fears hundreds will lose their jobs following a general staff review which began in 2015. The cuts are expected to result in more services being shared across rather than replicated in separate departments. Last year, five staff in the music department lost their jobs during a overhaul of the humanities division. At present, music, theatre and performing arts staff were spread across 10 locations and the new facility would consolidate them and enhance the sense of community in the east precinct of the campus and within the humanities division, she said.
Music technician Stephen Stedman said confirmation the project would happen was ''very good news''. The new studio would be two storeys for acoustic purposes and each studio space would be designed as a box-in-a box to provide noise isolation. The studio would connect to the existing college music suite via a first-floor walkway. About 45 parking spaces beside the Robertson Library would be lost because of the new building. However, 150 new spaces would be available in a car park constructed on the former Wickliffe site on the corner of Clyde and Albany Sts. University of Otago chief operating officer Stephen Willis said the next steps for the project were finalising the designs and applying for resource consents.
About 4000 students are taught the music programme each year.
Otago Daily Times, 13 July 2017