Commission on Fine and Performing Arts
Attendance: Bob Chapel (Chair), Hilary Alger, Samantha Beer, Nancy Brockman, James Cooper, Angela Davis, Ed Davis, Lear DeBessonet, Johanna Drucker, Jane Ford, Joan Fry, Sandra German, Larry Goedde, Jill Hartz, Richard Herskowitz, LaVahn Hoh, Shona Hunter, Denise Karaoli, Judith Kinnard, Phyllis Leffler, Jane Penner, Clorissa Phillips, George Sampson, James Scales, Judith Shatin, Bill Sublette, Beth Sutton, and Susan Wheeler.
Mr. Chapel announced that he would hold one more meeting of the entire commission on Tuesday, December 14. This meeting will follow a December 13 work session the commission chairs will have with the vice presidents and deans. At the work session, the commission chairs will present interim reports on their commissions progress. Mr. Chapel asked Judith Shatin, Jill Hartz, Larry Goedde, and Dean Dass if they would attend the work session to help inform the discussion and answer questions.
Mr. Chapel distributed the interim report he will present. He went over it and asked for comments. He noted at the outset that it includes little on creative writing, architecture, media studies, or media arts. The report concentrates on the programs featured in the October 8-9, 1999 retreat: drama, music, art (especially studio art), and the Bayly Art Museum. The report begins with assumptions and definitions. A section follows on aspiration groups and benchmarks, with specific benchmark programs and criteria, and measures for identifying gaps and opportunities. Then comes a section on future directions, including strategic priorities and strategic plans for buildings. There follow sections on concluding thoughts with a list of intermediate tasks, additional questions to explore, observations from experts attending the October retreat, and an addendum.
Discussion of the report ensued. The section on buildings needs revision
to include the new museum in the $75-89 million phase one. Ms. Phillips suggested revising the list of immediate tasks by grouping related issues. Ms. Kinnard asked that more emphasis be placed on college-wide efforts and the potential for interdisciplinary work. She asked that the School of Architecture not be overlooked; it wants and needs to be a central component of the "Arts Village." George Sampson noted Mr. Chapels use of the name "Arts Council" in the interim report to refer to the faculty committee that would coordinate and facilitate interdisciplinary work in the arts. Mr. Sampson requested use of a different name, since there already is an arts council comprised of arts donors and supporters. Mr. Chapel agreed to make necessary revisions.
Commission members were curious about the names of a list that a sub-committee has drawn up for a lecture series on the arts. The list includes artists like Stephen Sondheim, Mikael Barishnikov, Beverly Sills, and Quincy Jones; James Scales is contacting agents to inquire about fees. The first lecture might be in the spring of 2000.
The group discussed the invitation to the initial gathering of arts faculties. Music, drama, and art are scheduled to meet on January 19, 2000. Subsequent gatherings will include the other arts departments. By inviting three arts departments at a time, on a rotating basis, all the arts faculty members will eventually meet each other. Ms. Shatin asked about the purpose of the meetings. Mr. Chapel said that they will provide opportunities to say, "This is who I am, and this is what I do." Knowing each other and knowing of each others interests will facilitate interdisciplinary teaching, research, and other collaborative activities. The matter of omitting the School of Architecture from these meetings came up again. Rather than including architecture and expanding the numbers in each gathering from 80 to 130, Ms. Shatin suggested that each of the arts departments meet independently with faculty in the School of Architecture. Mr. Chapel, however, plans to look into a way to include architecture faculty in the January 19 meeting. He will convene a planning session for this meeting with Judith Shatin, Larry Goedde, Dean Dass, and Judith Kinnard. Further discussion revealed the need to develop connections between the arts and other non-arts disciplines, e.g., medicine and law. Commission members recognized the wisdom of developing these connections, but reached no clear conclusions about how to go about it.
Given the ongoing discussions about expanding the arts curriculum, possibly making an arts course a requirement for all University of Virginia students, and devising new, interdisciplinary courses, Bill Sublette asked how the faculty and the facilities would accommodate the additional students such courses would attract. Courses in drawing and photography, for example, are already over- subscribed. Several commission members offered suggestions for controlling numbers, including adding prerequisites for very popular courses and adding faculty to teach additional sections.
James Cooper asked how the arts faculty would react to adding many non-majors to their classes. Mr. Chapel used drama as an example and pointed out that around one-third of the students in the current production of "A Chorus Line" are non-majors. The students are terrific, and the faculty enjoys working with them. No other arts faculty members offered an opinion, but they recognized that the dynamics of what happens in the classroom changes when many students are non-majors. Perhaps the arts programs can develop a series of courses for non-majors.
Beth Sutton asked if Architecture and Studio Art, both of which teach basic drawing courses, share any classes. The answer was "no." Further discussion revealed that the departments have no idea how many students wish to enroll but are turned away from classes because of limits on class sizes. James Scales will discuss with the registrar the mechanism for finding out the magnitude of the numbers of students who try to enroll in courses but who cannot, because of enrollment limits. The administrative computing systems are in the process of being redesigned. It would be good to be able to retrieve information such as this, and perhaps this is the time to initiate a mechanism to do so.
Mr. Chapel discussed the need to have renderings of proposed arts precinct buildings. Potential donors are interested in seeing what it is that they are being asked to consider funding. He asked Judith Kinnard if there is a way to estimate the cost of getting an architectural rendering. Ms. Kinnard replied that a rendering generally costs a percentage of the projected cost of the building. Mr. Chapel and Ms. Kinnard will meet to discuss the needs and the potential costs.
Johanna Drucker repeated her request that the commission, both in its internal and external conversations, think of the arts as a whole and discuss them as a whole arts for the University community -- and construct a case statement for the arts based on an inclusive concept. The case statement would first and foremost consider the role of the arts in a university education, discuss the arts as an important way of thinking, and emphasize the place of the arts in this University; individual arts programs would be separate, secondary parts of the overall vision for the arts. There was general agreement with this concept.
Mr. Goedde invited members of the commission to the Art Departments annual holiday party on December 10.
Mr. Chapel reminded commission members that the next meeting would be held on December 14.
Joan B. Fry
December 3, 1999