Carolina Performing Arts’s program Arts@TheCore has made progress in building a stronger relationship between the arts and academics on campus.
The five-year Arts@TheCore initiative was implemented in fall 2013 to introduce arts programming into the work done by students and faculty at UNC. The program is funded via a $800,000 grant awarded to CPA by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Leading members of the initiative want students to attend performances and critically think about the shows. The main focus isn’t necessarily to enjoy the show, but to determine what they did and didn’t like about it, and why.
Aaron Shackelford, CPA’s Mellon post-doctoral fellow, said colleges and universities within the Triangle Area and beyond are implementing similar programs to connect their performing arts and academics. Shackelford said N.C. Central University, Duke University, Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor are all exploring similar programs.
“There are conversations happening across the country about what has been successful (in the program) and what are some of our more inspiring ideas,” he said. “So, there’s a lot of sharing not only within the Triangle, but across the nation.”
In order to spread the word about the what the performing arts at UNC has to offer, Joe Florence, CPA’s marketing manager, said it’s all about trying to find people with connections on campus.
Florence said Shackelford and UNC professor Joy Kasson, CPA’s Mellon Distinguished Scholar, approach faculty, go to seminars, host lectures and bring people in to answer questions and do surveys about the program.
“They spend all of their time and resources on campus reaching out to people to see what they might be interested in,” Florence said. “It’s a very roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-your-hands-dirty kind of outreach.”
Shackelford said many faculty members who are integrating performing arts into the classroom experience have reached out to Arts@TheCore. The program has created more opportunities for faculty and students to understand performance through the lens of a specific course.
“All of this happened in the past, but now it’s happening on a much larger scale and in a much more systematic and coordinated way,” Shackelford said. “This is rapidly becoming an institutionalized part of the Carolina culture.”
Florence said the performing arts are important for students because it helps them learn how to perform in front of people and make connections.
“Overall, if you look at CEOs of very successful companies, you’d be surprised how many have music backgrounds or performing arts backgrounds,” Florence said. “So, for students specifically, I think being around performing arts teaches them creativity and critical thinking.”
Senior physics major Robert Hunt has a passion for music, but isn’t majoring or minoring in any music-related field. He recently attended CPA’s “Spring Quartet” performance at the end of January, which featured National Endowment for the Arts jazz master and Grammy Award-winner Jack DeJohnette and jazz giant Joe Lovano.
Hunt said he was able to participate in a master class with DeJohnette and Lovano, a program presented by Arts@TheCore to students, allowing them to speak with globally-renowned artists and have them critique the students’s playing techniques.
“Most UNC students are not going to be out there listening to the newest Joe Lovano record, but it’s important to both like the music of today and broaden your horizons,” Hunt said. “It’s sort of inaccessible to a lot of people, and that makes it accessible.”
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