Next semester, Hogg Memorial Auditorium will close for an eight-month long renovation, requiring student groups to find alternate venues for their annual events held at the facility.
Hogg will close this September and is projected to be re-opened May 2015. During that time, crews will address issues with the auditorium’s seating, audiovisual capabilities and lighting.
“[We’re] bringing it to the 21st century while still maintaining its rich history of campus, so you will find that its character will remain the same,” Hogg Auditorium manager Cecilia Lopez Cardenas said.
Lopez Cardenas said currently, most of the seating is outdated, suffering from issues including broken springs. Hogg is also lacking in theatrical lighting and isn’t equipped with audiovisual capabilities, so students who use the facility must purchase or rent their own.
“I think that over the last two years we’ve brought the magic back to Hogg with a lot of student events in this space,” Lopez Cardenas said. “I imagine once we reopen with even more infrastructure we’re going to be able to serve them even more so.”
Built in 1933, Hogg, the first theater on campus, was almost completely financed by student and alumni efforts. Though the facility was managed by Texas Performing Arts in the late ’90s, the auditorium became a part of the University Unions in July 2012 as a combined effort between the College of Fine Arts, the Division of Student Affairs and Student Government.
Chris Deyo, math senior and president of Longhorn Singers, recalls the first time they hosted their biannual showcase at Hogg.
“We were in McCullough Theatre, but then McCullough started getting professional groups, and Bass [Concert Hall] was being used for other things,” Deyo said. “There wasn’t room for us to do our show there anymore, so we had to seek the opportunity that opened up.”
With Hogg closing, Deyo now faces the issue of relocating the showcase for the next two semesters. While Longhorn Singers and other organizations were notified of the closure and referred alternative venues last fall, location options such as those managed by Texas Performing Arts are already reserved for select weekends, and the cost involved limits pre-show rehearsals.
“We just definitely have to make a lot of changes for our expectations of our show,” Deyo said. “I know Hogg needs to be renovated but it’s definitely affecting us in a pretty huge way.”
Kyle Clark, associate director for New Student Services, which hosts a part of freshman summer orientation out of Hogg, said he will take the tentative renovation timeline into account when planning orientation for next summer.
“Part of that conversation is going to be, ‘What’s our plan, 2015 orientation for Hogg opening and not opening, or being delayed,’” Clark said, “I kind of hope it’s all or
nothing. I think it would be weird to try to plan a summer-long program where you’re in Hogg for part of it but not all of it. That’s doable, but I think it’d be a challenge.”
While the renovation requires New Student Services to create a contingency plan, Clark said he looks forward to how the renovations and restoration will contribute to the orientation program.
“I do think renovation and upgrade is going to really help give a great first impression,” Clark said. “There’s a lot of students who select to go here and they haven’t come for a campus visit, so to come to orientation and to go to the opening program and really see this beautiful space. Then to find out that it’s a space that’s also built for student use, I think that’s going to be a really great point to make students, and something they can really get excited about.”