It’s Time to Upgrade the Barker Performing Arts Center


The BPAC, which was built in 1995, is due for a technological upgrade to approach the audio and video amenities available at Benjamin Hall.

It is where all the middle school students and teachers gather every Monday morning for assembly, it plays host to dance, drama, and music productions for both the Middle School and the Lower School, and it’s where the TBS community gathers for guest speakers and important events. It is the one, the only, the Barker Performing Arts Center, also known as the BPAC. However, with the addition of Benjamin Hall just three years ago, will the BPAC be upgraded to match the technology and prestige of its upper school counterpart?

“There are plans to upgrade the Barker Center,” said Marc Washington, Benjamin’s assistant technical theater director who usually runs the BPAC’s sound and lighting booth. “[Benjamin Hall Technical Director] Chris Bell and myself have worked diligently to get quotations of these upgrades, which would put the Barker Center’s level of equipment on par with Benjamin Hall. Technically mirroring [it], but on a smaller scale,” he said.

However, when are the renovations to the BPAC set to take place?

“In regards to when this upgrade will begin” said Washington, “we hope the sooner the better, but there [are] no date or times set in stone.”

Eden Josza
The BPAC hosts a number of events and guest speakers throughout the year for both the Lower School and Middle School. Here, ADL representative Caterina Rodriguez talks to the eighth graders in the BPAC.

In particular, the BPAC needs major improvements to its audio and video capabilities. “It would be great to have a series of hanging mics, several more wireless mic packs, and perhaps a new lighting and audio board in the booth,” said Technology Integration Coordinator Mr. Nicholas Crisafi. “It would also be nice to have space where we could have a switcher and streaming capabilities so we can shoot and edit video on the fly while live streaming events,” said Crisafi, who films all of the events for the Lower School and Middle School.

“We have been in discussions about it, and the Fine Arts Department and I have sent in a proposal to Mr. Washington about upgrading the audio and video capabilities of the BPAC,” said Crisafi.

According to an April 2016 estimate by Peerson Audio, a company based in Jupiter, Florida, these renovations would cost approximately $139,000. However, they are needed because even though there’s Benjamin Hall, it is located at the high school, and it is not always available for Lower and Middle school activities and performances.

“I know faculty and staff from the Lower School and the Middle School are wanting to use Benjamin Hall due to it’s a much larger venue and new equipment,” said Washington, “but the issue there is scheduling and transportation throughout the school days. Benjamin Hall is continually very busy with highs school events.”

Hopefully, the BPAC will be upgraded soon, but as it is right now, students are pretty happy with the way it is.

“I like the BPAC, I think it is pretty cool,” said seventh-grader Anthony Pace. “I don’t think anything is wrong with it.”

However, if he could change anything, he would “get a better sound system and better acoustics, and some comfortable chairs. Mr. Washington’s room should get upgraded a bit [since] it is kind of cramped, so they should make it a bit bigger,” said Pace.

Like Pace, fellow seventh-grader Gabe DiFilippo is perfectly fine with the BPAC. “To be honest, I think it is pretty cool the way it is, but they should put more color into it,” he said, referring to the drab beige and brown walls.

So perhaps one day in the near future, the BPAC will get a major overhaul, but for now, at least the students are fine with it. And if the BPAC won’t do, there’s always Benjamin Hall on which the school can rely.