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Stony Brook Southampton: College Announces Expansion of Masters in the Arts Programs

Posted on 23 June 2011

Courtney M. Holbrook

It’s not unusual for young aspiring writers and actors to attend renowned MFA programs in theater and creative writing.

After years of ebbs and flows in the economy and, and it’s own ever-evolving saga, Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus is now poised to offer those young writers and actors a place to train. The faculty of the Masters in Fine Arts in Writing and Literature degree gathered last Thursday, June 16, for a press conference in which they discussed the future of an expanded MFA Program and their new summer workshop opportunities.

“This will hopefully be the first of many announcements of our growth and prosperity as we expand the arts on this campus,” said Robert Reeves, director of the MFA program. “We’re adding to our own unique strength as one of the most distinguished creative programs in the country.”

Those additions come in the areas of creative writing and theater. Stony Brook Southampton runs an annual Southampton Writers Conference (this year from July 6 to 24), a summer workshop program designed to nurture and teach aspiring and current writers in a variety of fields, including screenwriting, playwriting, children’s literature and creative writing.

Now, Stony Brook Southampton will add the first Southampton Theatre Directing Conference to their summer lineup. The faculty views this expansion as a major development of their program’s purpose in aiding artists in multiple fields. According to Reeves, the Southampton program is now one of the largest arts masters programs in the country.

The directing workshop is an idea that has been in the works since Nick Mangano, artistic director and department chair of the Stony Brook University Department of Theatre Arts, came to Southampton four years ago. A budget crisis at the university, however, combined with a general down turn in the economy made it difficult to build such a program. But after some of the economic dust settled, the idea of expanding the program to include a directing component was resurrected by the faculty.

“The gem of this plan we have now came out of our discussions about the expansion of theatre and film,” Mangano explained. “The multi-disciplinary collaboration of artists is at the heart of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Exactly what they’re trying to accomplish is simple — Stony Brook Southampton wants to be the “center of the arts on the East End,” according to Mangano. By expanding the program, the hope is the campus will become an “incubator” of new artists whose work will be nurtured and developed in a supportive university and conference structure.

The expansion does not stop at theatre directing, however; in sync with the idea of a multi-disciplinary collaboration is the addition this summer of Southampton’s first Digital Filmmaking Conference. Mitchell Kriegman, the workshop’s director and Emmy Award-winning director and producer, noted that the film industry is seeing a huge growth in indie filmmaking thanks to technological advances.

“The development of the digital camera opened directing to everyone,” Kriegman said. “Now, we have Final Cut, Panasonic and more — the world is open to people who want to tell a story in a purely visual way … and we want to help them.”

Last Thursday, the faculty also discussed the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program, the only creative writing MFA program in the SUNY system, according to Reeves. In January, the campus received approval for an MFA in theater and a creative writing minor for undergraduates. Also discussed was the program’s Young American Writer’s Project (YAWP), which Emma Walton Hamilton, the program’s executive director, noted was another step in Southampton’s goal to engage gifted young writers of all ages.

And as the summer conferences and MFA program continue to grow, the faculty hopes to see even more developments in the coming years.

“We have a belief that creativity is the most important thing — it allows us to engage with the world,” Reeves said. “With this enormous collaboration of the arts [at Southampton], we’re on the next step in graduate arts education.”

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15 Responses to “Stony Brook Southampton: College Announces Expansion of Masters in the Arts Programs”

  1. sstorch says:

    ARTS, ACTING? THOUGH NOBLE PROFESSIONS, HOW MANY MAKE A REAL LIVING FROM THAT? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ‘SUSTAINABILITY’ PROGRAM? IT DISGUSTS ME THAT STONY BROOK ENDED UP WITH THIS CAMPUS…. UCK!!!! THEY HAVE TO PAY HOMAGE TO THE CORPORATE WORLD…. HOW CCAN THEY PRODUCE INTELLIGENT ENVIRONMENTALISTS WHEN THEY ARE FUNDED BY CORPORATE POLLUTERS [SUNOCO] AND TAKE ROCKEFELLER MONEY? THE CAMPUS IS DESTINED TO BE RETURNED TO THE SHINNECOCKS…

  2. exprof says:

    It took me 14 months to get paid by the MFA and YAWP for work I did last year. And all I had to do in order to get paid was file a formal complaint, threaten a law suit and lose my job.

    The Environmental Programs at Southampton were sold up the river for this “arts” plan, which WAS being discussed prior to the closure of the undergraduate programs. Clearly, what matters on the East End is brown nosing with the rich and famous.

    Don’t be fooled by snappy rhetoric, Southampton.

  3. Wanna Know says:

    What’s up with payment for the summer conferences going into the Stony Brook Foundation’s-DC account.

    Theatre Directing Conference July 13-24

    Make checks or money orders, drawn on a U.S. bank, payable to Stony Brook Foundation-DC and mail to:

    A Summer of Theatre & Film
    MFA in Creative Writing and Literature
    Stony Brook Southampton
    239 Montauk Highway
    Southampton, NY 11968

    http://www.stonybrook.edu/writers/taf/app_directing_2011.pdf

    Sure looks like the NYS Comptroller should be visiting Stony Brook University and its Foundations after he is done in Albany going over the SUNY Research Foundation’s books?

    http://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/jun11/060111a.htm

    Can we get an investigative reporter on this?

    “CREATIVITY”- Is this “CREATIVE” accounting that is going on between the University and the Foundation which is set up as the official fundraising and private gift receiving agency for the State University at Stony Brook?

  4. Former Student says:

    What I have learned from Stonybrook administrators: Cut programs before they have time to become economically viable, blame the kids for its failure then repeat the same mistake. I.E. get in the papers for being progressive and new then blame something big like budget cuts so you don’t look like terrible people when you need to change it to the next progressive act. PROGRESS, HOPE, DESTRUCTION, SCAPEGOATING, DESPAIR, PROGRESS…. AD INFINITUM!

  5. ana says:

    Is this arts plan the reason why the visionary, world-class model of a college-degreee environmental sustainability program & its state-of-the-art hub at this campus were destroyed even as it reached success? Was everything that the sustainability program had accomplished there thrown away just so the campus could be turned over to the artists elite? That is disgraceful.

    While the sustainability college was being killed off, the gov’t & others report that environment & sustainability is where the job growth will be. How many jobs will there be for writers & actors? These arts programs seem like very nice extras for they campus but they should not have been a replacement for the sustainability college. They could have been an addition. The sustainability college did not have to be put out of existence for the arts programs to begin. The programs could have co-existed on campus together.

    I’m so sick of reading about the East End’s many environmental agendas, initiatives & efforts to sustain the environment, while they say & do nothing to protect the only college in the state that was focused on exactly those issues. Bunch of hypocrites. I hope the environmentalists of the East End are happy with losing the renown sustainabillity program & handing the green campus over to writers & actors. Maybe theyre hoping that some big shot filmakers will fund some of their environmental efforts.

    I’d just like to know who got paid off to sit by & do nothing while the sustainability college was being exterminated in exchange for this arts plan.

  6. Wanna Know says:

    What’s up with payment for the summer conferences going into the Stony Brook Foundation’s account.

    Theatre Directing Conference July 13-24

    Make checks or money orders, drawn on a U.S. bank, payable to Stony Brook Foundation-DC and mail to:

    A Summer of Theatre & Film
    MFA in Creative Writing and Literature
    Stony Brook Southampton
    239 Montauk Highway
    Southampton, NY 11968

    Note: DC stands for Directors Conference

    http://www.stonybrook.edu/writers/taf/app_directing_2011.pdf

    Then they are also having a Writers Conference:

    Southampton Writers Conference July 13-24, 2011

    Make your non-refundable checks or money orders, drawn on a U.S.
    bank, payable to Stony Brook Foundation-WC and mail to:

    A Writer’s Summer
    Southampton Writers Conference
    Stony Brook Southampton
    239 Montauk Highway
    Southampton, NY 11968

    Note: WC stands for Writers Conference

    http://www.stonybrook.edu/writers/writers/writers_app_2011.pdf

    Sure looks like the NYS Comptroller should be visiting Stony Brook University and its Foundations after he is done in Albany going over the SUNY Research Foundation’s books?

    http://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/jun11/060111a.htm

    Can we get an investigative reporter on this?

    “CREATIVITY”- Is this “CREATIVE” accounting that is going on between the University and the Foundation?

    The Stony Brook Foundation was set up as the official fundraising and private gift receiving agency for the State University at Stony Brook. Something is very wrong with this picture!

    According to the brochure:

    “We’re pleased to offer graduate credits to eligible students.” (pg.11)

    http://www.stonybrook.edu/writers/writers_brochure_2011.pdf

    “GRADUATE CREDITS TO ELIGIBLE STUDENTS” But payment goes to the Stony Brook Foundation and NOT the University. What’s up with that?

  7. Sustainability Mom says:

    Keeping the sustainability majors at the Southampton campus was a worthwhile investment to grow our economy and provide needed jobs to our graduates on Long Island.

    “The green job market is expected to quadruple in the next ten years and analysts expect the industry to grow 20% to 30% in all sectors of the green economy.” Gihlooley, Sally, “Green Thoughts,” Networking, April 2011, page 26.

    Now CW Post is providing sustainability classes to high school and college students, for college credit, at one-third their normal fee. Unfortunately, this is not happening at the Southampton campus, but up island in Nassau. http://postpioneer.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/c-w-post-adds-sustainability-courses-to-summer-2011-curriculum/

  8. Sustainability Mom says:

    NY Times
    NOTICED
    Green Jobs Attract Graduates
    By AUSTIN CONSIDINE
    Published: June 24, 2011

    …..”Suddenly, “sustainability” seems to resonate with the sex appeal of “dot com” or “start-up,” appealing to droves of ambitious young innovators. Amelia Byers, operations director for Idealist.org, a Web site that lists paid and unpaid opportunities for nonprofit groups and social enterprise companies — some 5,000 of which are environmental organizations — said the number of jobs related to environmental work has roughly tripled in the last three years. “A lot of new graduates are coming out of a world where volunteerism and service has been something that has helped define their generation,” she said. “Finding a job with meaning is an important value to them.”…….

  9. Hmmm says:

    Prior comments seem to be written by those who were invested in the success of the sustainability campus in Southampton. Unfortunately, that program has been discontinued. I am sorry for your loss. Argue the merits of that decision, but do not attempt to create some linkage between that decision and new opportunities that are now being created for those studying in a different field. There is no such linkage.

    Please do not attempt to dismiss artists, writers and actors as “elites.” Doing so only reveals that you do not actually know any artists, writers or actors. Are you spoiling for some sort of argument? Because such language is argumentative. If that’s what you want, so be it. Be aware that artists and writers have done pretty well in the argument department over the centuries. They tend to be on the front line when it comes to changing societies.

    Again, no disrespect to sustainability and science and the green future of our economy. In fact, scientists could probably use the help of artists, writers and actors to get their message out.

  10. Professional Actor says:

    To HMMMM,

    I am a professional actor (Member of SAG & AFTRA), producer, director, and come from a family of professional actors. I also know for a fact, as I am one of the displaced Sustainability undergraduates from Stony Brook University Southampton, that these decisions to shut down the Sustainability program ( recent settlement only guarantees the Sustainability program until 2014) are all linked.

    The plaintiffs fought for almost a year and a half to keep the sustainability degree program, and co-habitate with the MFA & Marine Sciences (which they argued would all synergize each other) on the Southampton Campus, which the MFA program and the University passionately opposed. Why? There are many, many more such links.

    You pooh-pooh the comments from those who sight links to these issues, “Please do not attempt to dismiss artists, writers and actors as “elites.” Doing so only reveals that you do not actually know any artists, writers or actors.” I KNOW MANY PROFESSIONAL WRITERS, PRODUCERS, DIRECTORS AND AM A PROFESSIONAL ACTOR, so there goes that argument. The observation from comments above state do not claim artists with elitists…but rather, question the current viability of gainful employment in the Arts today -IN PLACE of Sustainability, which is where over half of the jobs in this new economy will be. I question exactly WHO will the students be for short term onesy-twosy courses? How many sweet old ladies must be kissed to draw enough money for that crowd to SUSTAIN ITSELF?

    As a professional actor, I have quite a stake in the arts and fully support them all. I also know for a fact, as you are welcome to look at the contracts for actors by going to the unions websites, that the actor starting a career today, with the VERY SAME BODY OF WORK as one who has made their entire living acting for the last 30-40 years, WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO MAKE A LIVING FROM WHAT THEY NOW PAY TODAY.

    To quote an Academy Award-winning actor, “I used to guest star on an episodes of shows like Dynasty for $60,000 plus residuals, and now the same work in today’s market offers me $6,000, TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT.” 75% of the new jobs in TV are in minimum wage “reality” shows. This means that 75% of the work professionally trained actors, like me, and that Academy Award-winning actor have spent years of our lives training for,
    do not exist.

    Why, indeed, did Reeves jump on the Stony Brook University bandwagon to mow down and kill of the Sustainability Degree program? The University also fought the plaintiffs who argued for SOME UNDERGRADUATE degree-bearing program to be restored at the Southampton campus EVEN IF IT WAS NOT THE SUSTAINABILITY DEGREE PROGRAM. The University will NEVER return any undergraduate degree bearing program there. Why? What possible conflict do Arts and Marine Sciences have with Sustainability…that also celebrates EVERY LIFE FORM AND SYSTEM…INCLUDING HUMANS?

    Another important fact: The decision to close the Stony Brook University Southampton campus was ruled illegal in the New York State Supreme Court, which the University had plenty of time and money to appeal. The students had no more money for legal fees, so the “settlement” between the Stony Brook University and the Southampton Plaintiffs vacates this ruling against the university. The Students won, their complaint that the campus closure was illegal was confirmed, and here we are today, with the celebration of short term, and MASTERS arts courses (that only the rich, transients who want a class with Alec Baldwin or Alan Alda-and who wouldn’t?) can afford.

    No links…..The university has just tapped Reeves for a high level administration job. Google that non-link.

  11. Sustainability Mom says:

    1075948 Southampton, NY Medical, Laboratories 01/25/2011
    Description Site work and new construction of a medical building in Southampton. Preliminary plans call for the construction of a 15,000-square-foot clinical laboratory. Plans include associated parking and landscaping. The grant for this project has just bee…Click here for complete Project Details

    Where is this going in Southampton? This is new construction. Will it be on the Southampton campus land? Will it be a laboratory that collects medical samples from the local area hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, etc. as described on Senator LaValle’s website, paid for under the HEAL NY strategic plan? How will the medical waste be handled?

  12. Bay Swimmer says:

    Check out this article in 27 East Dated August 17, 2011:
    http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/Hampton-Bays/394880/Hampton-Bays-Civic-Association-Laments-Pollution-In-Bays

    WE CAN’T EVEN SWIM IN OUR BAYS AFTER A HEAVY RAIN!!!
    NOW WE ARE PLANNING A 15,000 SQ. FOOT LAB on the Stony Brook University Southampton campus…just a few hundred FEET FROM THE BAY?

    When will we stop developing land that is already over-developed? If this community took some of the ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT course offered in the soon-to-be extinct Sustainability Degree program offered at this university -MOVED OVER AN HOUR AWAY TO THEIR CONCRETE CAMPUS- they would understand how precious and delicate our ecosystem is here and how overtaxed it already is.

    We must keep that Southampton land intact or we will destroy ALL THAT THE DISPLACED STUDENTS worked and sued – AND WON for the East End community.

  13. jt says:

    I would love to know what Stony Brook University administrators got in return for stealing the “green” campus out from under the environmentalists & handing the whole thing over to the local well-healed artists. Its a downright scandal what has been done over there. Kicking out what would have been over 1000 young college students by now just to leave the entire newly renovated campus to be under-utilized by a few dozen middle-aged artists & writers & a few out-of-town visitors. SBU’s message to the local high school students: money talks in this town & the elite have it — the rest of you can just move away for college.

  14. jt says:

    Dear Hmmmmm, The point is that one program did not have to be exterminated from the campus & hundreds of students did not have to be so adversely affected just to grow the arts programs. BOTH could have co-existed on campus together. And should have, as was planned from the beginning when Stony Brook first gained the campus. Theres Plenty of room for both of these programs & much more that was to come. Poor decisions, poor management, poor leadership, poor vision on the part of Stony Brook’s president & SUNY’s administration — all the expense of those 800 environmental students and every NY taxpayer. And whats to stop Stony Brook from doing it all again in 3 yrs when the cash cow campus doesnt turn the kind of profit thats expected.


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