Reprinted from the Harker Quarterly June 2010 issue
Student artists of all disciplines and their families had three opportunities in May to celebrate the unveiling of the conceptual design of their new space, a performing and visual arts center (PVAC) planned for the center of the Saratoga campus as part of phase 4 of Harker’s master site plan.
Diana Nichols, former head of school and lifetime trustee, hosted the events in the Nichols Hall auditorium. The programs included talks by visual arts chair Jaap Bongers, performing arts chair Laura Lang-Ree, and an impassioned speech by Nichols herself, who charmed, cajoled and nudged the audience into understanding the importance of completing this new venue for Harker.
Bongers outlined the difficulties his students have trying to make art pieces in the same space they are stored, and the need to work outside in all weather, because there are no rooms with proper ventilation or floor space. Lang-Ree’s speech included a dramatic visual punch – a video made by a local school that shows a time-lapse sequence of their new space, and testimonials by their faculty detailing how competitive and attractive their school can now be because of their arts center. Lang-Ree pointed out that while audiences may only see the “glitz and glamour of our productions,” what they don’t see is much more revealing; the students then gave a laundry-list of challenges they face as performers in their limited and unequipped spaces.
Student performers gave the potential donors a look at their future beneficiaries, performing dances, songs or dramatic scenes at each of the gatherings. Nichols then opened the floor to questions and comments.
The highlight of each show, though, was the presentation of the site plans. Built around the theme of a crystal – which is constantly changing, growing and reflecting light, the way students are – the new gym, student center and PVAC have glass entries. Waterfalls, a suspension bridge, a roof vegetable garden and green space will make the center a stunning addition to the campus.
A special “gift club” called The Director’s Circle has been established to recognize the many teachers, staff members and others who have made early gifts to this campaign.
The excitement at these gatherings was palpable, and momentum is growing. The time to get on board is now!