In 2019, Emil Kang steppeddown as the special assistant to the chancellor for the arts, leaving behind a legacy of creative innovation within performance and visual arts programs like Arts Everywhere.
Although Kang was responsible for aiding in the creation of Arts Everywhere, his departure has not halted the work being done within its foundational walls; in fact, the program continues to grow.
Kathryn Wagner, Associate Director for Arts Everywhere, said the vision for the program was established long before Kang left the organization.
“So really, it's up to those of us that are still here to move that vision forward and see where it can expand and grow,” Wagner said, “adapting to whatever the needs of the University are.”
Former Chancellor Carol Folt, in conjunction with Kang, established Arts Everywhere in 2016 — as a means of connecting students and staff to the arts at UNC— collaborating with numerous on-campus organizations to bring the message to life.
In 2017, with the creation of For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina, a university fundraising campaign set to run until Dec. 31, 2022, Arts Everywhere became one of the four signature initiative funding priorities.
For All Kind aims to raise $4.25 billion by Dec. 31, 2022.
Wagner said as a signature initiative, Arts Everywhere works to promote, highlight and grow the arts on UNC’s campus — moving the University into the next decade.
“One of our core missions is to make the arts a central part of the Carolina experience,” Wagner said.
Debbie Dibbert, the assistant vice chancellor for principal and major gifts, said Arts Everywhere receives $500,000 in funding at the start of every fiscal year, from the office of the chancellor.
The University's funding, paired with additional private donations, allows Arts Everywhere to continue its mission, to connect all facets of the UNC community, as well as provide student artists with grant opportunities to pursue their goals.
Beth Grabowski, a Kappa Kappa Gamma distinguished professor of art, said the program has improved since its creation.
When Arts Everywhere first kicked off, Grabowski said she and her colleagues in the department of art and art history were frustrated with the program's lack of collaboration.
"Having Carol Folt out, painting flower pots in the pit wasn't our idea of something that really was looking at the cutting edge of art-making in the same way that Arts Everywhere was dealing with other forms of fine arts, specifically performing arts," Grabowski said.
However, in recent years, Grabowski said she witnessed the program engage with the art department more.
"I think we were heard in terms of our frustration, and we partner with them on a lot more things," she said. "They've tried to engage us with opportunities and get our input on things."
Dibbert said each of the four signature initiatives have a funding goal that falls under the $4.25 billion campaign. She said the initiative that Arts Everywhere is classified under has a $350 million goal, and approximately $174 million of that goal has already been raised.
The Arts Everywhere initiative encompasses a number of art programs and offerings on campus, including the Ackland Art Musem, Carolina Performing Arts, PlayMakers Repertory Company, Sonja Haynes Stone Center and a number of academic departments on campus.
Wagner and her team strive to innovate the program, assisting in as many on- and off-campus endeavors as possible — collaborating with UNC’s music department to create the First Fridays concert series, hosting pop-up galleries on Franklin Street and assisting in the programming for Morrison Art Studio.
On campus, Catherine Zachary, communications coordinator for the Department of Music, said the First Fridays series is a wonderful way to connect talented student musicians with the rest of the community — bringing visibility to UNC’s music department.
“I’d love to see the First Fridays series expand to be able to do more pop ups across campus and spread music that way," Zachary said. "Maybe even extend out to collaborate with other departments."
Off campus, Susan Brown, the executive director for Chapel Hill Community Arts and Culture, collaborates with Arts Everywhere to bring student, faculty and alumni art out into public view — turning vacant downtown spaces to galleries.
“Strategically and especially in a college town, collaboration and partnership is really how you can move the needle on things,” Brown said, “to extend your resources and your impact.”
Wagner said she is also looking forward to bringing more awareness and support towards the arts through Arts Everywhere Day in April — an annual event showcasing the talent and dedication of student artists across campus.
“We are here to support students, faculty and organizations in any way we can to help see their projects and their art come to life,” said Crystal Wu, the marketing and development communications manager for Arts Everywhere.
Wagner said she hopes Arts Everywhere can continue to expand its scope across the UNC community in the new year through the implementation of even more pop-up art events and the proliferation of student grant opportunities.
“I think if by 2021, I can increase the percentage of students interfacing with the arts, I would be happy,” Wagner said.
Whether a student comes into contact with the arts at orientation or a random pop-up show or an Arts Everywhere sponsored class, Wagner said she hopes to connect each student with the arts in some way.
“Even if you're not super into the arts, there's always a place for you,” she said.
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