Sep 17, 2018
Arts Administration, Arts Council

This Arts Council-funded Project is entitled Upper Level Student Support Pilot Suite. The project was proposed by George Sampson, Associate Professor with the McIntire Dept of Art / Arts Administration.

In the 2018-19 academic year, Arts Administration seeks to consolidate its curriculum and build a more robust experience for its upper level or more advanced students. Upper level/advanced refers to both Interdisciplinary Majors with a path in Arts Admin as one of their three disciplines, and also to particularly dedicated non-major students. Dedicated students are those engaging in onGrounds leader roles; those demonstrating, via summer internships for example, a serious preprofessional interest in arts or cultural careers; those who have taken multiple ARAD courses, or other identifiers.

This project is a pilot program for a suite of student enhancement initiatives. There are three components to the suite: Establish a pool of funding to support 4th Year DMP projects; Funding support for two long-standing internship programs; Support for the purchase of reading packets created by Arts Admin.

1) There is a periodic but continuing need for financial support for 4th Year DMP projects. This proposal envisions the establishment of a fund with clear guidelines for internal applications, from which Majors could seek modest support for their projects, based on need. Setting up and managing such a fund would be an academic / experiential exercise in philanthropy and extend the idea of Arts Admin programs (like Artists in Residence) serving as in-house research laboratories for our students. There are 7 rising 4th Year Majors for 2018-19 and if each were to apply and qualify, there could be made available 7 grants of $500 each. This amount totals $3,500.

2) Two local internship programs have more than 5-year histories with Arts Admin and are unique to it. Both have suffered from inconsistent student engagement. Neither are monitored by Arts Admin personnel yet both impact Arts Admin’s relation to our community. Writer House Gallery was launched in 2012. It offers a rare undergraduate curation and gallery management opportunity. The results have been inconsistent in part because, I believe, it is not deemed “important enough” by some students. Yet it provides a real service to artists and to Writer House. A paid internship might make this seem more worthy of an investment of time and attention. The same is true, in terms of Arts Admin focus, for the McIntire Art Committee, which curates and manages the Connaughton Gallery and other exhibition spaces in the Commerce School. Here, 7 Arts Admin has been involved nearly as long – extending back to the 2012-13 year at least. There are two Arts Admin / Art Dep’t interns who join two Comm. School interns in curating at least one show a year and in helping manage receptions for three other shows. The Comm School has provided financial support, but their staff and administration are not equipped to provide oversight. This is especially true for Arts Admin students they do not consider their “own.” Conversely, Arts Admin does not feel empowered, since funding comes from the Comm School, to manage expectations and details of student involvement. Streamlining funding source with oversight would add clarity and be beneficial to all. Recent seasons have been less than ideal in both cases. For different reasons there has been a lack of oversight and lack of student motivation. This pilot proposal seeks to lend importance to each position. Estimated cost of all 3 internships (two at Comm, one at Writer House) are $2,000 per year, broken down as: $500 for both Comm School slots, plus $1,500 for the Writer House. (Reception and hanging costs are borne by either Writer House or the Comm School.) Note: Both internships could carry the Arts Council name for the year(s) in which they are funded. If a pilot year proves successful, private funding will be sought on an on-going basis.

3) In 2017, a 184-page booklet of summer readings was assembled for rising 4th Year DMP students. Once assembled, we found we had to pay for the duplication ourselves, as Arts Admin technically has no official control over the DMP process. We could not require student purchases. This booklet is envisioned as the first of possibly several such publications, none of which we can force prospective readers to acquire. For example, another one might address faculty who agree to advise our DMP students as they create Interdisciplinary (or Transdisciplinary) projects and theses. The cost of having these printed is estimated to total $500.00. (Experience has shown that making such material available only online reduces its chance of actually being read without academic requirement.)

The impact of this proposal will be targeted on helping develop the Arts Admin curriculum itself. Our goal is enriching the experience of those who have invested the most in their undergraduate experiences in Arts Administration.

Community impact from both Writer House and Connaughton Galleries is significant in terms of items sold and attendance at Opening Receptions, but metrics are unknown at this point as neither have been carefully maintained. Simply reporting to Council about the impact of this grant a year from now will inspire better record-keeping. Impacts from different DMP projects vary, but some have in the past staged public events with upwards of hundreds of people in attendance. The reading packet part of this proposal would be more internal to UVA.

Writer House is a stand-alone community institution. It participates in First Friday gallery events in Charlottesville. A more robust tie with Arts Administration at UVA could produce substantial profile enhancement. The Connaughton Gallery at McIntire is gaining wider regional recognition, if not yet national attention. Yet one could note that the underlying Arts Admin curriculum which these proposed initiatives are a part has earned a reputation both nationally and internationally. This can be indicated in three ways: our alumnae spreading across the country and around the globe continue to thrive. Two recent professional conferences have chosen to invite talks on our approach, one in Philadelphia and one in Edinburgh, UK. And written endorsement comes from Ellen Rosewall, former President of the Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE): “Bottom line, I know of no other programs doing all of these things, although I’ve encountered some who are experimenting with some of the philosophies you mention. I think your program could be an exciting look into the future – not only of Arts Administration Education but of higher education in general.”

The goal of all three portions of this proposal is to add substance to existing programs. Metrics which could be applied in reporting include attendance at gallery openings; enhanced number of copies of a student Zine published for a DMP; copies of in-house publications made available to Arts Admin students or others

The Arts Council provides advocacy, advice, and support in the Arts at the University of Virginia. It strives to develop and strengthen the bonds of interest and participation among the Arts Departments, their associated programs,  and their alumni and friends; to advocate on their behalf; to advise and assist with communications; and to help raise funds in support of academic programs, facilities, and special events. Among its multitude of arts advocacy efforts, the Council awards annual Arts Council Grants. These grants have, and continue to play an instrumental role in a number of  residencies, workshops, project and research-based endeavors proposed across Arts Grounds annually. This series of articles will highlight each funded project and serve to inform the UVA community of their unique timelines, progress and outcome reports.