It takes creativity and communication skills to put a performance piece to paper. It takes critical thinking and collaboration to actually produce the idea. And it takes media and digital literacy to share that production with the entire world.
In fact, it can be argued that the arts are the confluence of all of the 21st century skills, but that vision requires a space that sparks students’ creativity, makes collaboration easy and fun, and provides the opportunities to share their creations with the outside world.
Just like the school as a whole, performance art spaces need to be rethought with a student-centered concept in mind. Perhaps in no other discipline is the teacher serving as more of a guide and less of a remediator or information source.
Certainly, students need background knowledge to accomplish their goals, but for the majority of the class time they are the ones moving toward the ultimate product. The space needs to reflect that it is the students who are making things happen.
What a New Performing Arts Space Looks Like
What kind of design features promote these ideals? First, adaptability. The space needs the ability to be configured from small group collaboration to large group performance quickly and easily.
The next feature is the capability to organize all of the specialized equipment required by the burgeoning artists. Stages, instruments, uniforms/costumes, props and sheet music all have to be available to the students, yet easily stowed away when not in use.
Finally, the performance space should be the most visually appealing space in the school. Bright, colorful, and creative décor set the tone for the inventive work that will be accomplished within.
Today’s modern furniture and equipment options exhibit these capabilities:
- Chairs that are lightweight, easily moved, and stackable.
- Stages that can be configured in multiple ways for multiple purposes.
- Acoustical tiles that come in a multitude of colors to compliment the décor.
- Storage cabinets specialized for instruments, art supplies, and set pieces.
For the creative student, the performance space should be their most favorite area of the school. The beauty of the right design is that it has the power to spur the creativity in even the most reluctant student.