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News Clips 01/17/2013
EDITORIAL: Keeping film school in West Palm must make sense for FSU
Source: Palm Beach Post, 01/17/13
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Florida State University President Eric Barron is scheduled to update the Board of Governors this afternoon on the status of FSU’s film school in West Palm Beach. His presentation should answer why the school should remain now that Digital Domain is no longer a partner.
FSU trustees said on Friday that they want to keep the school but left the decision Dr. Barron. Digital Domain Media Group, the government-subsidized animation company that lured FSU to West Palm Beach with promises that students would work with industry professionals and create movies at an on-site studio, filed for bankruptcy in September.
West Palm Beach gave Digital Domain $2 million to help FSU develop its program. The deal offered the university a chance to expand without start-up costs. The city has offered the university another $200,000 to keep the film school going through the end of this semester.
“It serves as an incubator for attracting similar businesses that will feed off of the film school,” West Palm Beach spokesman Eliot Cohen said of the school’s benefit to the city. “It’s a magnet for creating a new industry.” How, though, will FSU afford the program after the one-time gift from the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency — if it’s approved — runs out?
“We have always had serious concerns about this program in West Palm Beach,” Board of Governors Chairman Dean Colson said in a statement. “It is extraordinarily expensive to our students. Now that it has lost its partner in Digital Domain, our concerns are even greater. I, as chair of the Board of Governors, am hopeful we will see a plan to transition the program back to Tallahassee.”
FSU put the film school in West Palm Beach, however, because it offers amenities that Tallahassee does not. “Ideal for filmmakers, West Palm Beach, Florida provides compelling shoot locations ranging from Spanish-style mansions to coastal beaches and urban alleyways,” says FSU’s website. “A vibrant community rich in cultural activities, West Palm Beach is abundant with creative inspiration.”
Also, FSU Provost Garnett Stokes estimates that it would cost $16 million over 10 years to move the school to Tallahassee and $3 million to move faculty, equipment and remodel facilities. There are 25 sophomores at the West Palm Beach campus and 19 students in the freshman class, which spends its first year in Tallahassee. FSU has received about 100 applications for next year’s program.
As The Post’s Kimberly Miller reported, only one student in West Palm Beach is willing to go to Tallahassee. Key faculty members also have no desire to move. Still, if FSU’s film school is to remain in West Palm Beach, Dr. Barron must make the case that doing so is financially feasible.