Community Art Forum

The lovely Cathy Messier wrote up a review of the Community Arts Forum! Enjoy!

On Thursday, March 3, members of the three schools of creative arts met for the Community Arts Forum in the Laurie Theater – the first event of its kind at Brandeis. The purpose of this forum was to establish shared goals and needs of the arts at Brandeis with each other and share them with the the administration, including our new president, Fred Lawrence. This is community of people who often only heard of needs of their own department and the forum provided a chance for the three schools to unite and establish a sense of solidarity with each other, in light of the recent budget cuts and other financial difficulties we all have had to face.

The event started with statements from the three chairs of the departments and the head of the Rose Arts Museum. All four statements were eloquently presented, displaying a love for their department while not hiding the sadness and disappointment surrounding the recent struggles faced. Scott Edmiston then asked the audience to voice any thoughts they were having, to which both students and faculty responded. Attendees were then divided into discussion groups, led by UDR’s, to establish the strengths, goals, and needs of the arts departments. Many of these discussions expressed a need for greater cohesion between both arts and non-arts communities, and within the different arts departments themselves. Another need expressed by several groups was regarding the lack of space for classes, and the lack of diversity when it came to course options.

After these discussions took place, Lawrence arrived and was interviewed by Julie Judson ’11. The interview questions varied immensely – some were asked to get to know him as an appreciator of arts, while others were on touchier issues, such as the Rose Arts Museum controversy. After the interview, members of the community were allowed to ask the president – or each other – questions, which also varied. Students and faculty presented ideas for how to build bridges between the arts/arts and arts/non-arts communities, such as holding arts events in Science and Math buildings. A student also expressed how valuable classes were when they brought people from different departments in and found a way to integrate seemingly different non-arts material into an arts class.

I would say the Arts Forum was a success, but that it is important to acknowledge it as a first step, rather than a culmination. Many people who attended this forum said they enjoyed connecting with people they normally do not interact with, and that the conversations that took place should have been happening already outside of our own departments. These discussions should continue happening afterwords, perhaps in a more structured way (since the needs and goals were so varied and numerous that they naturally almost seemed scattered).