Senators Schumer, Gillibrand Secure Federal Funding to Support Arts Center at St. John Fisher University

March 18, 2024

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Gillibrand announced that St. John Fisher University will receive $1.8 million in federal funding through the just-passed Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bill. The bill included $6.9 million for Rochester and the Finger Lakes in support of the region’s educational institutions, arts sector, and health care and workforce training.

The new blackbox theater offers a flexible performance space for artists.

The funds will transform the former Coleman Chapel in Murphy Hall into a new multi-purpose performing, visual, and literary arts center.

“Fisher’s Arts Center at Murphy Hall provides current and future students the opportunity to foster their interest in—and appreciation for—the arts and to share that passion with the greater Rochester community,” said President Gerard J. Rooney. “I am grateful to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their efforts in securing this funding for the University.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer

This incubator for community engagement and arts education will support Fisher students and community members with a variety of interests and needs. The Center’s programming will impact the surrounding communities and reach across the state through educational enhancements and career-readiness opportunities.

The Arts Center at Murphy Hall includes a black box theater, dance studio, visual arts studio, and music practice rooms. The theater, which was recently completed, will afford dancers, musicians, and other artists a space for performance, while the visual arts studio offers students interested in the arts an enhanced experience and a space to call home. The renovations also include a welcoming new vestibule and multi-purpose box office.

Over the last several years, the University has seen a growth in student interest in arts-related courses, clubs, and activities. In 2022, Fisher launched an interdisciplinary arts minor, and today, seven full-time faculty members and several adjunct professors teach more than 30 courses in the interdisciplinary arts, photography, dance, creative writing, digital art, video storytelling, and more. Outside of the classroom, nearly 250 Fisher students engage in six co-curricular activities in the arts each year, participating in Fisher Dance, Drastic Measures a cappella group, Fisher Swingbirds jazz band, Cardinal Company theater group, Visual Arts Club, and Angles, the University's literary magazine.

“With these federal funds I fought hard to deliver, we will make investments in our Finger Lakes higher education, museums, and thriving arts sector, which will spark economic growth, drive tourism, and help lay the foundation for a stronger local economy,” said Senator Schumer.