Arts Council Outlines Its Vision for BC

(12-10-98) -- The Boston College Arts Council has a vision: The University will host a large arts festival every spring, scholarships will be offered to budding artists, and additional facilities for the arts will one day grace a campus dotted with sculptures.

These are a few of the recommendations contained in a recent report to University President William P. Leahy, SJ, by the Arts Council, a 19-member panel of faculty and administrators formed late last year to encourage a flowering of the arts on campus.

Fr. Leahy commissioned the panel to compile the report on the "State of the Arts" at Boston College as its first order of business. Fr. Leahy has praised the result as a "comprehensive and thoughtful" document that makes a strong case for the value of the arts to a liberal arts institution.

"I do think we can take some immediate steps to enhance the arts at Boston College, and we can begin developing a plan to address the more long-term needs, especially those concerning facilities and funding," said Fr. Leahy. "I am pleased to know that the Arts Council will play an ongoing leadership role in those efforts."

The report urges a range of short- and long-term actions intended to boost the visibility of the arts on campus, including expanded efforts to bring performance groups and visiting artists to the Heights, the launch of a lecture series on religion and the arts, and further efforts to provide rehearsal and gallery space for student artists.

"What is a Jesuit university without the arts?" said Council Chairman Assoc. Prof. Jeffery Howe (Fine Arts).

"In all manifestations of the arts, the focus on creativity, on the seeking for one's personal truth, whether through an exploration of the world around oneself or by delving into the depths of oneself, brings one close, knowingly or unknowingly, to the divine," Howe and his Arts Council colleagues state in their report. "We feel we have a mission to uphold the place of the arts as a kind of beacon which draws students and the general community out of a world of blurred stereotypes and conventions and into a realm of searching for higher and deeper meanings."

The arts also offer practical benefits, said Howe, by offering "a civilizing influence that has a positive effect on student formation, in addition to a significant advantage in the recruiting of the best students, and something in which the neighborhood can share."

The Arts Council's effort has already begun to bear fruit.

Howe said plans are being made for a two-day arts festival in April to be co-sponsored by the council and the Office of Community Affairs. Timed to coincide with an exhibition of paintings by the Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio at the McMullen Museum of Art, the April 28-29 festival will include tents on O'Neill Plaza offering musical performances and art demonstrations.

Also in the works are a newsletter on the BC arts scene and a Feb. 16 Arts Career Day, according to Howe.

"I think the Arts Council has generated a sense of excitement about the future of the arts at Boston College, by pulling together various constituencies in the arts and getting them to work together to generate new ideas," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ, who sits on the panel with representatives from the Fine Arts, English, Music and Theater faculties and administrators representing the McMullen Museum and student performing groups.

"We envision Boston College as a place where the arts are flourishing and celebrated," he said. "We hope to see more public art on campus, more student artists attracted to the University, and a greater awareness by the outside community of Boston College as a place where art is produced and performed."

Other council recommendations include the launch of an arts channel on campus television and the development of an undergraduate minor and a graduate concentration in religion and the arts.

Long-term goals envisioned by the Arts Council include expanded programs in new media, the establishment of a graphic arts center for students and faculty, and the construction of additional facilities for the arts.

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