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Art appreciation!
New initiative provides for free admission for students, expanded programming

Sept. 10, 2007
By Anita Martin
Photo courtesy of the School of Theater

This year brings good news for student art lovers with empty pockets. 

Photo courtesy of the School of TheaterDuring 2007-08, every Ohio University student with a valid ID can enjoy free admission to most College of Fine Arts performances, the cost of which had risen last year to about $12 a ticket. The university also has allocated funds to expand fine arts programming, making possible an ongoing film series that will run one week each month and encouraging faculty, staff, students and community members to submit proposals for new arts programs and events.

It's all part of the Arts for Ohio Initiative, funded this year by a starter grant from the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. The initiative adds College of Fine Arts events to the repertoire of university-sponsored programs with free student admission, such as varsity athletic events and Baker University Center activities ranging from comedy shows to late-night concerts. 

The free admission Arts for Ohio makes possible affects primarily dance and theater performances within the College of Fine Arts because admission to most School of Music performances, the Kennedy Museum of Art and other campus art galleries is already free. The initiative does not cover student organization fundraisers or the Performing Arts Series, although reduced student rates still apply for the latter. 

The initiative grew out of requests from students themselves, said Maureen Wagner, project director of Arts for Ohio and assistant director of the School of Theater.

"This really came from students saying, 'Hey, we want to participate in arts events, but we can't afford it,'" she said. "Last year, because of rising production costs, not even theater or dance majors received complimentary tickets to college performances, and neither did faculty or staff."

Emily Ryan, a junior acting major who serves as the theater representative on the Arts for Ohio advisory board, believes free admission will yield a much greater audience turnout.

"I know I speak for many fine arts majors when I say how disappointing it is to have a good friend tell you they aren't coming to see your performance because of the money," Ryan said. "We spend countless hours rehearsing, and when we finally have a product to present, it's very heartbreaking to see maybe half the seats full in the audience."

The Arts for Ohio grant will support new programming, including a monthly weeklong film series that begins Oct. 12-18. Organized by the Athens Center for Film and Video, coordinator of the annual spring Athens International Film and Video Festival, each film series will begin on the second Friday of the month and run through the following Thursday. The center will collaborate with others, such as African American Studies or Southeast Asian Studies, to develop monthly themes for the series, which will be shown at the Athena Cinema. 

Share your ideas

Proposals are still being accepted for new 2007-08 Arts for Ohio events and activities. To learn more or submit a proposal, contact Maureen Wagner at wagnerm@ohio.edu or 740-593-9355.

"Our new film series aims to provide the entire campus and town communities with a variety of international and independent film screenings," said Ruth Bradley, director of the film center. "Mostly these will be films that are classics, or are somewhat rare, or have some kind of retrospective appeal."

Filling audience seats and expanding arts programming will not only promote cultural appreciation, but also can enhance other aspects of campus life. According to a study by the National Endowment for the Arts, participants in the arts are three and a half times more likely to read literature, twice as likely to be physically active and nearly three times as likely to volunteer. 

"We know how the arts enhance people's lives," said Chuck McWeeny, dean of the College of Fine Arts. "With this initiative, we're trying to establish for students that access to and participation in the arts should be a part of the ongoing education in their lives."

The inherent value of the arts -- and the civic-mindedness and lifelong learning that comes with it -- prompted Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl to support Arts for Ohio financially.

Krendl's office is providing $300,000 in one-time money to support the initiative's 2007-08 trial run. The funds will compensate for ticket income and cover the cost of new initiatives and advertising. Krendl said her decision to provide funding stemmed from the proposal's strong link to Vision Ohio priorities and from student concerns about access to arts events. Student and Graduate Student senate resolutions and the Student General Fee Committee alike had advocated for such a program.

"Making arts events accessible to our students is critical to the goals and values of Ohio University. Our mission is to be known for preparing students to contribute to a citizenship of human possibility," Krendl said. "The arts teach us so much about our capacities as human beings. By eliminating the cost barriers and facilitating new arts opportunities for the upcoming academic year, we are making a meaningful investment in the mission of our institution."

An advisory board made up of five students, two faculty members, an administrator and a College of Fine Arts school director will help guide the Arts for Ohio process, including validating outcomes and choosing new initiatives. A report planned by the end of this academic year will take a comprehensive look at the program, including the impact on the community, and make recommendations for the future should funding be continued. 

In the meantime, students can explore a range of free arts activities, from theater and dance to underground film.

And Ryan, for one, is excited at the prospect of sharing the arts with more of her fellow students. "The arts are not here to just entertain," she said. "(Artists) are here to allow you a glimpse into a different perspective, or even make you see the world in a new light."


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Published: Jan 3, 2007 9:35:38 AM
 
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