Grant Supports Creation of Makerspace in Fine Arts Library

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Hearst Foundations have awarded a $200,000 grant to the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies in the College of Fine Arts and the Fine Arts Library at The University of Texas at Austin to help create a common makerspace — called the Foundry — where students can create 3-D objects, videos, apps and other creative projects in the digital arts.

“The Foundry will support new collaborations across disciplines and give students the hands-on technological skills and knowledge they need to succeed as artists and entrepreneurs," said Bruce Pennycook, director of the center.

Located in the Fine Arts Library, the Foundry will bring together students and faculty members from many disciplines to generate new ideas, research, art and inventions — both curricular and noncurricular. A section of the library will be renovated to create specialized labs and studios to support creative projects that involve recording, editing, design and fabrication. 

“Because of the generosity of the Hearst Foundations, the Fine Arts Library will be able to provide access to the Foundry, a full-service creative makerspace,” said Laura Schwartz, the Fine Arts Library’s head librarian. “The impact it will have on student learning and research is beyond our imagination, and we are so excited about offering a space that encourages creativity and opens up endless possibilities.”

Once built, the Foundry will offer 3-D modeling and printing resources; an audio/video production and editing studio; a recording studio with sound isolation for singers and narrators to practice and record; an interactive game and mobile applications studio; a studio for microelectronics and animatronics; a high-tech music recording and production studio; and a multifaceted fiber art studio to experiment with technology-enhanced costumes and clothing.

Fundraising efforts for the Foundry will continue to enhance the equipment available to students, add support staff members and expand programming.

“We’re incredibly grateful to the Hearst Foundations for their support of continuing efforts to transform our library spaces in ways that nurture creativity and enhance student success,” said Lorraine Haricombe, vice provost and director of University of Texas Libraries. “The Foundry as a solitary place where students can utilize modern tools and techniques to both gather knowledge and apply it moves a step closer to reality through this generous gift.”

UT Libraries are continually working to reconfigure physical spaces to meet the needs of 21st-century students through projects such as the Foundry. The recent opening of a Learning Commons and the approaching launch of a Scholars Commons pilot (early 2016) at the Perry-Castañeda Library offer examples of innovation in how libraries are converting space to serve modern users.

The Foundry will be part of the college’s new Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies, a program that blends art, technology and entrepreneurial skills inside and outside the classroom. The center expects to serve 2,500 students by 2017, including students enrolled in the college’s new Bachelor of Science degree in arts and entertainment technologies, expected to launch in fall 2016.

"The Foundry will give all UT students and faculty a much broader palette of tools to pursue original creative research across disciplines. It will also allow our new programs in arts and entertainment technologies and gaming to grow and realize goals for curricular transformation,” said College of Fine Arts Dean Doug Dempster. “Our facilities need increasingly to be designed for different disciplines to bump up against each other. We are eager to see how students collaborate to compose, record, program and fabricate using the new technology the Foundry provides. Fine Arts is thrilled to be collaborating with the University Libraries on stoking the Foundry!”

For more information, please contact Alicia Dietrich, College of Fine Arts, alicia.dietrich@austin.utexas.edu, 512-475-7033, or Travis Willmann, UT Libraries, traviswillmann@austin.utexas.edu, 512-495-4644