From the Star Store to Bed Bath and Beyond: UMass Dartmouth arts studios migrate to Towne Center

Aug 30, 2023

Update 9/5: Another email sent to UMass Dartmouth arts students by Dean A. Lawrence on Sept. 5 indicated that the school still had “no specific timeline” available for when the new space in Bed Bath and Beyond would be ready.

A notice sent to UMass Dartmouth College of Visual and Performing Arts students Aug. 28 by the dean indicates that a temporary “Art and Design Studio” will move into a “large, empty storefront space in the Dartmouth Towne Center.”

While the notice does not explicitly state that Bed Bath and Beyond is the intended location, students have walked into the building’s open doors and found supplies and belongings piled up inside next to the rows of Bed Bath and Beyond shelving still left inside. Additionally, third-year ceramics MFA student Fallon Navarro told Dartmouth Week that she and second-year ceramics MFA student Jillian McEvoy followed a moving truck on Saturday that unloaded supplies into the former Bed Bath and Beyond.

The textile, jewelry and ceramics programs will move there, according to the notice, along with graduate student studios. 

All other programs will relocate to UMass Dartmouth’s main campus buildings or in “customized, modular classroom buildings.”

The notice comes two weeks after the school announced it would be leaving its historic Star Store location in downtown New Bedford due to a lack of state funding for the facility.

The decision prompted outcry (and a petition) from students and alumni, who were confused about where all of the work will go. That question seems to have been answered, at least temporarily, but it’s not exactly the solution students had in mind. 

“A strip mall is a very different environment than what we signed on for when coming here,” McEvoy said in a message to Dartmouth Week. “Instead of supporting local businesses and being in the heart of downtown New Before, we can now walk over to Chuck E. Cheese for our lunch breaks.”

The university’s notice calls the new space “temporary,” which makes McEvoy worry that the school will not put in any effort into reestablishing the new studio spaces until a long-term solution is found. 

Even more nerve-wracking is the prospect of the students’ bodies of work moving to the storefront. Students have asked whether their work can be insured if things get damaged, but were told it wouldn’t be worth it as only material costs could be reimbursed, McEvoy said.

Some students in CVPA live in New Bedford without a car, as they previously could walk to the Star Store. The university has not told students exactly how transportation plans will work, but assured in the notice that the shuttle service between New Bedford and Dartmouth will remain, and that students could take the hourly SRTA Route 10 bus that goes to Towne Center. 

“And we are expected to pay our full tuitions when we are losing over half of our facilities?” McEvoy said. “Instead of views of the water from our studios, we get views of the strip mall parking lot.”

Classes at UMass Dartmouth begin Wednesday, Sept. 6 and move-in day for students living on campus is Sunday, Sept. 3.