holds retreat to consider needs for fine and performing arts
left to right) Some of the participants invited to discuss
the arts at U.Va. included: Michael Mercil, Ohio State; Barbara
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, NYU; William U. Eiland, U. of Georgia;
Chris Killip, Harvard; Richard Karpen, U. of Washington; and
Barbara Nosanow, U. of Minnesota (retired), who has held posts
at the Smithsonian and the National Museum of American Art
the year 2020, we want no less than for our arts programs to be
thought of immediately as one of the strengths of this great institution,"said
Robert Chapel, chair of the Virginia
2020 Fine and Performing Arts Planning Commission.
Programs. Buildings. Faculty. These words sum up Chapel's report
to the Board of Visitors at a meeting Oct. 15. While Chapel said
that programmatic vision is paramount, buildings are needed to
make cultural transformation a reality.
professor Robert Chapel chairs the Fine and Performing Arts
week earlier, the commission held a retreat with leaders from
10 benchmark institutions about the success of their arts programs.
Included were representatives from university museums; arts, drama
and music programs; and performance centers from across the country.
They shared ideas about what makes their programs outstanding
and some of the problems they have tackled. It was clear that
"cultural life was as important to these institutions as
academic pursuits," Chapel said.
his opening remarks at the retreat, President John T. Casteen
III said that in the 1970s when U.Va. began to double its number
of undergraduates through the admittance of women, curricular
decisions were made that merely fit the arts into what are now
inadequate facilities. Other institutions used the increased cash
flow to create major arts programs, but U.Va. did not, he said.
30 years later, a new arts precinct is finally in the preliminary
planning stages that will bring the arts in closer proximity to
each other and foster more opportunities for interdisciplinary
endeavors. A University concert hall also is on the horizon.
Melvyn P. Leffler, Dean of Arts & Sciences, addresses the
Bayly Art Museum has
taken the first step toward imagining a new facility by scheduling
a lecture series, featuring speakers who can educate the University
and Charlottesville communities about new museum buildings and
how architects work and think about space.
"Until an adequate number of practice rooms are constructed
for instrumental music performance, until young sculptors and
painters have a healthy environment within which to work, until
there is somewhere in which to hold a dance class without hurting
the knees of our student dancers," Chapel said, "U.Va.
doesn't have a prayer of becoming an equal with other arts programs
in the nation."
Arts Commission has completed its first phase, assessing current
programs and future needs of all the departments and programs
involved in the arts: the music and art departments, the studio
art program, the Bayly Art Museum, the drama
department and the Heritage Repertory Theater, the Virginia
Film Festival, the fine arts library, the music library, the
creative writing program, and the School
spite of facility limitations, the School of Architecture is ranked
sixth by U.S. News & World Report, and the Art History program
is ranked 16th by the National Research Council. The new Robertson
Media Center, made possible with a recent gift from U.Va. alumnus
and Board of Visitors member Timothy B. Robertson, and the new
Media Studies program, headed by Johanna Drucker, form a strong
foundation for a new interdisciplinary program.
music department's academic program is first-rate, and the performance
programs are integral to its strength. The studio arts faculty
has boosted that program in the past few years. The drama department
features a strong production program, but it is hampered by lack
of technical staffing and space.
is still a growing student demand for more studio art classes,
additional performance instruction, and programs in dance, along
with the need to expand existing programs and hire additional
"I am convinced that the arts faculties are doing all they
can to fulfill their educational missions. ... artistic performance
is best taught one-on-one, or at least one-on-12," Chapel
said. "And because of our spatial inadequacies and lack of
faculty, scores of students interested in taking courses in the
arts are not able to enroll, or, in many cases, they choose to
commission's next step is to further distill what was learned
at the retreat and decide what might be appropriate for U.Va.
Some of the advice that emerged includes:
good buildings inspire;
funding is crucial for programs, faculty and buildings;
endowments are critical to ensure ongoing excellence in all
know existing strengths and build on them;
the arts should be compared to cutting-edge thinking in the
sciences -- and funded equally;
interdisciplinary initiatives are important;
rankings do matter;
and finally, all art is expensive.
is still much work to be done to further define and prioritize
the commission's goals in anticipation of a final report, due
in the spring of 2001. Taking advantage of the momentum created
by the recent internal assessment and the retreat, however, one
of the group's immediate goals is to "create an exceptional
arts newsletter and web site for all of the arts at U.Va. Š to
let the world know that the arts are indeed alive and flourishing
in Charlottesville," Chapel said. "We have been a well-kept
secret for far too long."