October 30, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Official Grand Opening of MAGIC Spell Studios at Rochester Institute of Technology

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Official Grand Opening...

New Building Will Converge RIT's Internationally Ranked Academic Programs in Digital Media

Investment Complements "Finger Lakes Forward" - The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the grand opening of the new MAGIC Spell Studios facility on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology. MAGIC is the university's creative approach to the convergence of digital media disciplines, including film and animation and game design and development, and is a first-of-its kind effort in higher education. The facility, a Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council priority project, will allow RIT to bring together the academic programs and high-tech experimental facilities needed for technology development and commercially viable start-up activity. The new facility is also expected to foster entrepreneurial activity for area start-up companies, retain graduates, and create an industry hub with tremendous growth potential to generate new jobs in the region.  The Governor originally announced state support for the innovative project in July of 2015, when he brought his "Capitol for Day" event to the region.


"MAGIC Spell Studio is a great example of how partnerships between academia and the public and private sectors are helping New York's innovation economy thrive." Governor Cuomo said. "This state-of-the-art studio will support the transformation of the Finger Lakes' regional economy as it continues to move forward."


"This new facility at the Rochester Institute of Technology will merge film and higher education for a unique partnership that will accelerate the industry and provide great opportunities for students," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who attended the grand opening. "Magic Spell Studios will create a hub for animation and design in the area, support start-up companies, and generate new jobs. This investment as part of the Regional Economic Development Councils will accelerate economic growth and innovation and continue to move the Finger Lakes forward."


MAGIC Spell Studios features:


  • A state-of-the-art, 7,000-square foot sound stage;
  • A 180 seat movie theater with a projection booth;
  • A cinema-quality audiovisual system;
  • Sound mixing and color correction rooms;
  • Numerous labs and production facilities that will help support RIT's designation as a NYSTAR funded Center of Excellence digital gaming hub; and
  • An innovation zone that mixes faculty, staff, students, technology and infrastructure across programs from the School of Film and Animation, the School of Interactive Games and Media, and the RIT Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC Center). 


"MAGIC Spell Studios will be a wonderful resource for our students and also will serve as an economic engine for the Finger Lakes region and New York State," said RIT President David Munson. "The programs, labs, and studios in MAGIC Spell will help build and retain a vibrant workforce and send exciting products into the marketplace. Our sincere thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Empire State Development, our state Assembly and Senate delegation, and partners Dell, Cisco, the Wegman Family Foundation, and Austin McChord for the support that has made this magnificent facility a reality."


The $34 million project is supported by $13.5 million in state incentives, including a $12 million capital grant from Empire State Development and $1.5 million from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. RIT also received $3 million from Dell, $12.4 million from Cisco Systems Inc., $1.5 million from The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation and $1 million from RIT Trustee and Datto founder Austin McChord, a 2009 graduate of the college.  


MAGIC Spell Studios Director David Long said, "The new building is designed to physically bring together students and faculty from different disciplines. Students can walk in with ideas for film and animation, games and digital media and walk out years later with a marketable product. They spend the time in between using the state-of-the-art resources in the building to make it. That's a win not only for the university, but for the state. When students commercialize their work, it will ultimately result in a boost to the economy with the creation of new companies and new jobs in the upstate New York region."


RIT has been developing and publishing digital media, such as games, apps, films, art installations and interactives since 2013, creating a collaborative, university-wide endeavor that ties together entrepreneurship, academics, content creation, production and distribution. RIT was the first university to publish a video game on the Xbox One gaming platform in 2016.


Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "RIT's MAGIC Spell Studios, a creative hub and incubator for New York's next-gen entrepreneurs in digital gaming, film and animation, demonstrates the strength of our continued academic, industry and government partnerships in building a robust regional and state economy."


Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bob Duffy, said, "Academic and industry partnerships are a top a priority for the regional council. As a result, we strongly support the new MAGIC Spell Studios facility which will serve to further these collaborations, driving economic activity throughout the Finger Lakes region as it continues to move forward."


In January of 2016, RIT was named as one of three Digital Gaming Hubs in New York State by ESD in an effort to increase the economic impact statewide by fostering collaborative activities that spur new games or companies, as well as providing resources and mentoring to encourage students and entrepreneurs to enter the growing gaming industry.  In addition, the digital gaming hubs will assist existing companies with gaming concepts, technologies and trends and host events focused on assisting the gaming community. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and New York University were also tapped as industry gaming hubs.


Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, "RIT's MAGIC Spell Studios will leverage its unrivaled academic programming with groundbreaking digital media research and development that will help propel our region to the forefront of one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy. I have been proud to support the growth and development of this truly exciting endeavor and I look forward to the Studio quickly becoming a centerpiece of our region's flourishing high-tech economy."


State Senator Joe Robach said, "RIT has truly become a hub of innovation in our region and our state, with the grand opening of MAGIC Spell Studios being the latest example. As a representative of this community, I am pleased to see this project receive significant state investment and know the economic possibilities are endless with this collaborative partnership. I greatly look forward to seeing the state of the art productions that will be created in this space by students and industry professionals in the years to come."


State Senator Patrick Gallivan said, "I congratulate RIT, New York State and the various business organizations that have made this unique public-private partnership possible.  Magic Spell Studios puts RIT and our community at the forefront of the digital media industry in terms of education, research and development.  This collaborative approach to higher education will have a lasting impact locally and globally."  


State Assembly Member Harry Bronson said, "I'd like to congratulate President Munson and the Rochester Institute of Technology on the opening of the MAGIC Spells Studio, and I'd like to thank Governor Cuomo, Dell, Cisco Systems, and the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation for their funding contributions. Having toured the studio while it was under construction, I am incredibly impressed by the talent, vision, and innovative spirit that helped make this project a reality. "Bringing together students, academics, and entrepreneurs to work in collaboration, the MAGIC Spells studio will continue to grow our region's reputation as a high-tech, innovation-driven economy."


Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward 


Today's announcement complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $6.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.


Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office