The Future of the Story Arts Centre

The Future of the Story Arts Centre
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By Sanjeev Wignarajah
Three-year Journalism Student

Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre is an institute and incubator for would be journalists, filmmakers, broadcasters, artists and media professionals to build new skills and to apply them in the industry. It has gone through a lot of changes from what it used to be, Toronto’s Teachers College, to Story Arts Centre. As more new programs emerge in the coming years, there have been talks to expand the campus.

Launching in Fall 2016, three new programs will be coming to the Story Arts Centre and they are: Advertising – Creative and Digital Strategy, Product Design and Development, and Theatre Arts and Performance. I spoke to Dean Nate Horowitz, principal of the Story Arts Centre campus. Horowitz tells me that the programs are exciting. 

“Product Design and Development is ours and we’re in partnership with the School of Engineering at Progress Campus,” Horowitz says. “It’s going to lead and enable students to become industrial designers focusing on product, using the latest technology and creative skills and communications. It’s going to be very exciting.”

The second program is Theatre Arts and Performance. It will be held at the Story Arts Centre and the Toronto Centre for the Arts. What’s unique about the program is that it’s also going to take place in the GTA, and other parts of Ontario, in empty storefronts.

“We’re going to be working with places like the Tarragon Theatre and some other theatre places,” Horowitz says.

Lastly, the third program is a postgraduate program, Advertising – Creative and Digital Strategy. It is a program for “People who have an interest in creative work and putting that in the context of digital technology media strategy development. That’s what we’re going for. It’s a growth area for jobs,” he said. 

Liam McCarten, a first year Music Industry Arts and Performance students, says that having three new programs is awesome.  

Not only will there be three new programs launching in the fall, there has also been talks of expanding the campus to accommodate more students and add more state-of-the-art facilities.

“It depends what works for the students. I come from Ajax all the way to Toronto every day. So it’s a travel for me. Maybe there’s something also to be said for options,” McCarten said.

Horowitz met with the college space-consulting agency in May 2015. 

“They came in and talked to us. They looked at our schedule. How many classes are booked every week, and how long, from what time to what time in the day? The executive are very aware of this and they have challenges because they have to create priorities across the college,” Horowitz said.

It may take a long time because of priorities and planning.

“We don’t know what we’re going to end up with in terms of priority and we need to plan the fact that we may not be a priority for the next two to three years. I need to plan for that. What are we doing for space? Are we using that space? How are we scheduling rooms? We’re in a slow growth mode,” he said.

If they get approval, the plan is to have the two existing stories and one story that will go underground.

“It would have classrooms, some work labs, rehearsal rooms for music and dance and theatre and a large auditorium for performances, watching films with great technology, great projection and lighting and maybe holding 200 to 250 people,” Horowitz said.

Besides the discussion of expanding the campus, Horowitz says that a photography program is coming to the campus but it has been wait-listed by the provincial government for 20 months. It’s not just the Story Arts Centre campus that is waiting, it’s other colleges across Ontario that are feeling it too.

“I think it will be very exciting for the students; and that’s for me, the faculty here. People often think students are the learners,” he said. 

“All of us are learners. We all have to learn and so I see this as a very important place for developing storytelling skills along with technical skills to support that storytelling.”

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