Last Friday, the music room in the Marks Hall basement, affectionately dubbed “The Cave,” hosted its opening night. From 7:30 to 9:00 p.m., guests were allowed not only to go into the basement for live music, but also to stand outside on Marks’ patio to enjoy refreshments and create art of their own in collaboration with CMC’s Art Club. A cappella group Mood Swing, the Full Frontal Funkies, and other homegrown CMC artists performed songs encompassing all genres throughout the evening.

While there were many hands that played a part in its formation, The Cave was originally conceived by Phillip Pennell ’16. Last May, Pennell wrote an article for the Forum titled “CMC’s Stifled Musicians,” where he gave voice to the various concerns he perceived surrounding CMC’s disregard for the arts. Pennell wrote, “I have never felt so creatively stifled as I have at CMC.” In the same article, he described his futile efforts to promote the arts, writing, “Every year, some poor freshman takes up the fight for some sort of a musical rehearsal space before bureaucracy crushes them and they give up. This year, unfortunately, that has happened to me.”

Undaunted by the initial setback, and encouraged by the change in the upper levels of administration, Pennell decided to continue with his endeavor, submitting applications to the ASCMC Senate and Executive Board for funding. While Pennell initially received some funds from Senate, Dean Eric Vos advised him to apply for the President’s Fund, in hopes that he would be able to receive more money. Pennell only applied for $2,000–3,000 from the President’s Fund, but instead received $10,000, which went into the equipment now freely available for students in The Cave to use.

To help facilitate The Cave, Pennell has worked closely with the Arts Council to decorate, paint, and promote the space. “The Cave is not only a rock band type place, and so the Arts Council came in to paint the walls and help with other creative things. They also provided that support of having somebody in student government to make it more legitimate.” Pennell also worked simultaneously with the Dean of Students office to coordinate terms of use, and while holding information sessions to grant students with key card access to the room.

Student responses have been overwhelmingly positive. David Leathers ‘15, a member of Mood Swing, said, “Every school has its own character and part of CMC’s character is the arts, but some people don’t think it is. But it’s important to express that it does have that. This space proves that CMC has more than one dimension.” Joel Porter ‘16 also added that “[The Cave] is great; it definitely fulfills a need that was not met before.”

However, while there have been many compliments and commendations, equally prevalent is the sentiment that a space like the Cave was sorely needed and should have been implemented earlier. According to Leathers, “I think people were definitely stifled before this space; for a couple of years now people have been saying ‘We need this space,’ ‘I don’t know where to practice.’ But now, I think this space is letting the artists here blossom.”

While The Cave’s current location is in the basement of Marks Hall, its future in the short term is uncertain due to the planned reconstruction of Marks this summer. According to Dean Vos, “The entire basement will be renovated, and will be the temporary lounge for Marks next year… Phil and I will have to meet at some point to see how we can manage that just for next year.”

However, after a period of transition, the long-term future of The Cave is a bright one. According to Dean Vos, “The trustees actually want to turn over the entirety of the basement over the student use.” This means that the storage currently taking up the majority of the space will be moved somewhere else, so that students will be able to take advantage of the entire basement. According to Pennell, “They’re thinking of making [the basement] an entire performance music space, not just the existing part, but the whole thing. Not only that, but they’re going to expand the basement and put in two music practice rooms for student use.”