The University of Michigan will allocate $20 million over five years for its Arts Initiative to expand access with new programs and projects to engage university audiences, bring more artists to campus, and support and amplify the arts across the state and region.
"We can be sure that through this initiative, we will be increasing imagination, which is fundamental to learning and discovery,” said U-M President Santa J. Ono. "Creativity and openness of the arts, coupled with the rigor of the sciences, can provide the inspiration and insights needed to find solutions for the world’s greatest challenges.”
Ono said that connecting the arts to the campus and community more deeply than ever before will open new discoveries and create new possibilities.
Underscoring U-M’s role in the arts ecosystem of the region, the core goals of the Arts Initiative include:
"The U-M Arts Initiative presents an incredible opportunity for us to leverage the transformative power of the arts together with the incredible assets and resources at U-M,” said Christopher Audain, managing director of the Arts Initiative. "Our goal is to support students, staff, faculty and artists in their creative endeavors, to the benefit of the region, and ultimately, to help us envision a better world.”
The initiative was launched in October 2019 with $2 million in funding for a startup phase. A committee began an asset-mapping project to share information about the array of arts programs at the university and art displayed across campus, and conducted listening sessions with colleagues across the institution to understand where efforts can most effectively achieve the initiative’s mission.
That planning led to the development of a framework for a five-year growth phase.
The Arts Initiative five-year plan
In the three-year startup phase, the Arts Initiative team has launched new projects and programs, and consulted with arts leaders on gaps and opportunities across campus.
A few key initiatives include:
is a collection of projects that will make U-M a major destination for emerging and established artists, which in turn will drive creativity and collaboration across the university. The program will expand existing visiting artist programs and initiate new larger-scale opportunities while supporting efforts to invite more artists for collaboration, research and community engagement. One project under way is a collaboration with the U-M Museum of Art on a Curator in Residence program with Paul Farber from Monument Lab.
Increased Support for Arts Research is an area in which there is incredible demand, interest and a need for support-both on campus and across the country. At a time when financial resources in education are often directed more towards science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, the Arts Research activities will ensure that the impact and benefits of the arts are present alongside these other areas. Direct support for faculty and student research projects will help attract and retain leading faculty and students, while driving innovation in the arts consistent with the university’s role as a top public research institution. This includes further development funding opportunities such as the pilot projects and grants for arts in the curriculum.
"The university has superb arts resources that generate field-leading discoveries in research and creative practice. We educate, inspire and entertain students as well as people from across campus and the region,” said Jonathan Massey, dean of Taubman College and co-chair of the Arts Initiative. "Our aim with this initiative is to elevate that work and to increase its impact by connecting those activities to one another and to the work going on in other fields.”
Christina Olsen, director of U-M Museum of Art and co-chair of the Arts Initiative, said: "Our ambitious goal is to make the arts stronger, more cohesive and more visible, thereby transforming their role at the university and benefitting the lives of students and the entire community for years to come.”
About the Arts Initiative
The U-M Arts Initiative seeks to illuminate and expand human connections, inspire collaborative creativity, and build a more just and equitable world through the arts. It is a universitywide endeavor to make the arts central to U-M’s identity and mission.
The initiative addresses an array of needs, from bringing artists to campus and paid internships, to engaging with cross-university curriculum development and providing targeted grants to support student, faculty or staff arts projects.