Pianos echoing in the quad, students spinning on contraptions in front of the Ackland Art Museum, muralists bringing life to the walls of the town. These were the sights and sounds of last school year's Arts Everywhere Day.
This past spring, UNC’s first campus-wide Arts Everywhere Day brought new life to the campus in a way that the community had not seen before.
While last year's campaign focused on just one day, the team plans to create a more comprehensive campaign that goes beyond a mere introduction in the years to come.
As the Founding Director of Carolina Performing Arts, a professor in the music department and Special Assistant to the Chancellor for the Arts, Emil Kang has worked tirelessly on the creation and implementation of Arts Everywhere. He says that the project — sparked by Chancellor Carol Folt’s love of the arts — is a way for the entire campus community to come in direct contact with the arts.
“Is there a way for students who study science or business to see how the arts can relate to them?” he asked. “Do we see artistic expression on campus? How does my daily life as an average student get affected by the arts?”
While Kang said that last year’s Arts Everywhere Day was a way to let UNC students know of the campaign’s presence, the organization will begin creating larger projects in partnership with various campus organizations in the future.
“All of our projects will be partnerships with others. A partnership with the Carolina Union, a partnership with the Sonja Haynes Stone Center, a partnership with athletics. When we think about Arts Everywhere, we think of it that way,” Kang said.
The idea for Arts Everywhere came directly from the chancellor herself, according to Rachel Ash, associate director of Arts Everywhere.
“She saw the real impact of a similar initiative she did while interim chancellor at Dartmouth,” Ash said. “One of the quotes that stuck with me that she said at the beginning of founding this initiative was an Alvin Toffler quote. It said ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.’”
In addition to the arts faculty that drive the initiative, a special group of students representing different campus organizations also helps make Arts Everywhere what it is.
Elina Rodriguez, junior English major and president of False Profits comedy troupe, said that she was hooked on the concept immediately.
“This is my second term as president of False Profits,” she said. “Arts Everywhere got in contact with me because they were looking for students to get involved with them. I went to the first meeting and realized I just wanted to keep doing more and more.”
Rodriguez said she worked on the mural initiative last year and was amazed by the impact it had on her and the students she worked with.
“Public art can really have political and social power,” she said. “It was amazing. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. A lot of the people there hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in years, and they kept asking when we could do more.”
While Kang said it may take years for the campaign to be fully established and for it to create solid initiatives with partnering organizations, this year will surely have new creations in store for those wandering through campus to explore.
“There is such an opportunity for people to see the same spaces they see everyday, and to see them differently,” Kang said. “It would be incredible if we could do that right here.”
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