Department of Entertainment Industry makes move to Tombigbee Street

Department of Entertainment Industry Chair Dr. Bob Garfrerick, Gary Baker, Provost Dr. John Thornell, Vice President for Business Affairs Steven Smith and UNA President Bill Cale sign the lease for the new home of the entertainment industry department.

UNA President Bill Cale signed an agreement with Noiseblock Music Group Feb. 3 to lease space for the Department of Entertainment Industry for five-year increments and first option to purchase the property if it is sold. The studio-located on the corner of Tombigbee Street and Pine Street-will welcome the department and its students Aug. 1, Cale said.

The lease for the more than 9,000 square foot space will cost the department $5,500 a month.

The lease will commence June 1-when the department will begin renovating the space to fit its needs-but the studio should be ready to hold classes by next August, said Dr. John Thornell, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“This will be an opportunity for students to embrace the entertainment industry from start to finish,” he said. “They will have access to the full range of hands-on experience. They don’t currently have access to that type of space.”

The space will be renovated to include a keynote room for live performances hosted by entertainment industry students.

“The space we’re renting is a long rectangle, but it will eventually be L-shaped when we combine with the keynote room directly adjacent,” said Dr. Bob Garfrerick, chair of the department.

Grammy winner and owner and operator of Noiseblock Music Group Gary Baker said having access to a studio and keynote room for live performances will benefit the students of the department.

“There’s no substitute for playing live in this business,” he said. “This will give us opportunities to film or critique shows. That’s what we’re here for.

“The only way I see to be successful in music in the future will be to have great live shows and people pay to come see you.”

Garfrerick said he thinks students will be excited about the move from the department’s current location in the GUC.

“Since 1993 we’ve operated out of what is, essentially, a small office suite with access to a small studio,” he said. “We’ve had no control over any singular classroom.”

Parking probably won’t be a problem for students at the off-campus site, Garfrerick said.

“UNA has spaces in the parking deck just one block away,” he said. “And the location is even close enough for students to walk. We’re even looking at the possibility of having buses stop on that corner.”

Cale said the particular location of the move is significant to the university’s goals.

“We’re delighted that the university will have a formal and sustaining presence in downtown Florence,” he said.

Garfrerick said the move was a ‘perfect storm’ of variables coming together.

“The students need more hands-on experience, and UNA wants a downtown presence,” he said. “This studio will allow us to do some things for profit and others just to enrich the community, because that’s what universities do. I don’t know of an agreement quite like this one in the state.”