Originally published in The Statesman (December 4, 2011)
The College of Arts and Sciences is in the planning stages to create a Center for the Arts, which will combine the efforts of the art, theater and music departments and cDACT (the Consortium for Digital Arts and Culture) into a more cohesive group that will allow for better fundraising and increased collaboration within the departments.
Though this plan comes at a time when the school is facing deep budget cuts and slowly working on implementing shared support services, a controversial move that may effectively merge some administrative duties within certain departments on campus. But the two are separate entities.
Although the universities’ shared support services effort and planning for the Center for the Arts coincided, they are two entirely separate things according to Nancy Squires, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I think where the Center for the Arts is right now is trying to establish these shared service centers,” said John Lutterbie the chairperson for both the art and theater departments. “Some of the more idealistic visions of what a Center for the Arts could be are on hold until we can stabilize this element.”
Shared support services, which are changes that will combine staff to deal with administrative work have little affect on the center for the arts which is more concerned with academics and inter actual interaction rather than administration.
The center has been in the planning stages for about a year but the original idea goes back longer. The original idea was to form a separate college or school for the arts but was abandoned because of the economic troubles the school was going through.
It resurfaced in new form, as a Center for the Arts, with purpose to strengthen the arts on campus.
“When you are in a university that is heavily science oriented the arts can sometimes feel like they’re on the lower end of the food chain,” Lutterbie said. “So the idea was how can we strengthen the arts.”
And Lutterbie is not alone, Judith Lochead, the chair of the music department said that the idea is to give the arts an identity.
“I think eventually, we are going to drop this name center for the arts, come up with a different name and what we’ll basically be working with is ways to more carefully coordinate the arts activities on campus run by the various departments so there is more interaction,” Lochhead said.
The idea is to give the arts a more public identity, something that according to Lochhead and Lutterbie is something that makes donations easier to get.
“It gives it a structure it is easier to fundraise for something that has a structure rather than separate departments,” Lutterbie said.
The music, theater and art departments and cDACT already have crossover, the music and theater departments have been working together for years. The plan for the center would make getting funding and recognition easier while keeping the academic programs separate.
“There will be independent academic departments and independent programs that will all stay the same,” Lutterbie said. “It is not meant to replace the existing programs, or to somehow merge the existing programs.”