By Nyesha Stone
A tragic Saturday night for the Peck School of the Arts (PSOA) at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. An alleged accidental fire occurred in the theater building, which caused an estimated $1 million of damage. The fire was discovered around 10 p.m. causing the PSOA’s students and faculty to be devastated.
The set/scenery shop was destroyed by the fire while the theater, arts and music buildings had smoke and water damage.
The biggest worry for the school was where they were going to place the PSOA students. The fire hurt the PSOA community – some felt they lost a part of them… a part of their home.
“Where do we go from here?” said Bryson Langer, senior at UWM majoring in Theatre and Acting.
Langer isn’t too affected by the fire because he’ll be graduating in May, but he does worry about the future of PSOA. He knows UWM isn’t usually a student’s first pick for college, but with this fire he’s scared it will turn prospective students away from the PSOA program.
The fire not only destroyed a PSOA building but it affected the students more than anything. A lot of those students have been working on the production of their play “Arcadia” since December, and now with the fire they don’t know where they’ll be performing. Thankfully the PSOA students are resilient.
“We can perform anywhere,” said sophomore Maureen O’Hara, majoring in Musical Theatre. “I think that’s something we’re all trying to remember.” It’s too soon to say when the students will be over this situation, but they know the show must go on some day.
“This is a storm will just have to weather,” said Corey Fitzsimmons, junior majoring in Theatre and Acting. “We can do it and we will.”
Four days later, UWM Chancellor Mark A. Mone sent out an electronic update to the campus: “We are pleased that the Music building will be reopened on Monday and the Art building is expected to be re-opened by the end of next week to all students, faculty, staff, classes, and events.
The Theatre building, which suffered the most damage, is being approached as an opportunity to unveil an updated and upgraded performing space and learning center by the start of the fall 2017 semester.”
Since the fire, PSOA has received support from not only the rest of UWM, but the city as well. They’ve been offered help from professionals from other UW schools, 188 classes will be relocated around campus, they’ve received 25 computers from the University Information Technology Service, and relocated 50 auditions for prospective students.
The school even received offers from alumni and UWM’s development team for an emergency student fund.
PSOA students and faculty gathered Monday morning to share their thoughts, opinions, but most importantly to show each other support in a difficult time.
This is their home and they hope to be able to reenter their home soon.