The University of Chicago isn’t an arts school, and no one pretends that it is. But this spring, the character of the arts on campus is changing. Starting on Saturday, May 8th, the week-long annual Festival of the Arts will celebrate student work in visual and performance mediums, followed on May 15th by Summer Breeze, the University’s yearly music festival. And this year, these instituted events are joined by new reasons to celebrate arts at the University. Recent initiatives like the UChicago Arts Pass, which gives University students free or discounted entrance into Chicago art institutions, and the May 12th groundbreaking for the Reva and David Logan Center for Creative and Performing Arts, are beginning to paint a new landscape for campus arts.
Funded by the UofC’s Student Government, Festival of the Arts (FOTA) gives grants to students who propose a project for exhibition in the festival. One student is constructing an installation in a coffee shop; another is piecing a fashion line together in her living room. Ariya Sasaki, a current FOTA artist, emphasizes the importance of support for artists at the UofC: “On a campus where time for artistic creativity outside academics is limited, FOTA transforms the campus, reminding students of the simple beauty of art and shedding light on talented individuals who would otherwise be unnoticed.”
When completed in 2012, the Logan Arts Center will centralize the University’s arts communities, providing a forum for new collaborations between artists and art organizations by housing visual, musical, and performing arts all in the same space. Kate Dries, the current director of FOTA and a member of the committee for the Logan Arts Center, explains the importance of the center: “Usually, the arts have been largely supported by student organizations, who work with administrators to create a lot of the arts programming on campus. What is great about the Logan Arts Center is that the University is fully supporting the arts in a tangible and broad-based way.”
“It says something really wonderful about the incredible work that students and faculty are engaged in on campus, but also about the University’s commitment to supporting and enhancing that work,” Logan Center executive director Bill Michel says of the new space. “It’s going to further enhance collaboration between disciplines and between different arts.”