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Updated 10:00 AM October 31, 2005
 

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Arts at Michigan 'a connector' at U-M

In a time of hurricane disasters, war and concern over terrorism, the campus community today more than ever is able to connect to the beauty and spiritual uplift that flow from art and music—and you don't have to be a music or arts major or instructor to benefit.

Arts at Michigan Director Lisa Herbert, former University Musical Society (UMS) special projects director, says it became evident in recent years that general students hungry for a little more art and music in their lives would gain from someone giving them opportunities to perform or to simply appreciate art or music.

"We're a connector," Herbert explains. Her staff—two employees and five interns at peak times—promote everything from an online student musicians network that matches students looking for a band with others of similar tastes, to faculty with grants for arts-related trips, to a cappella singers who with Arts at Michigan's help have organized a campus-wide network of 12 groups.

One of the ways Arts at Michigan gets the word out to campus and the community is through an expanded electronic newsletter. Distributed every Thursday via e-mail, the newsletter profiles events happening in the next 10 days, along with contests, links and a Click on the Arts section with thought-provoking arts-related articles by students. One recent piece by LSA senior Natalie Sikora contemplated the notion of athletes as artists—a concept accepted by the ancients but rejected out of hand by today's athletes.

The newsletter also provides a call board. "We post opportunities for student artists; both calls for submissions and also auditions," Herbert says. "They can be on campus or in the community because there are a lot of students who are looking beyond school channels for arts related activity."

Arts at Michigan's partnership with Campus Information Centers makes possible the listing of campus events presented in the newsletter. Thanks to upgrades in the online newsletter's presentation, the subscriber list has grown to around 3,700. "Based on the report done for fiscal year 2005 we had around 70 percent students and 13 percent alumni and the rest non-affiliated," Herbert says.

A big focus last spring was to expand offerings in the group's colorful online calendar, to build the subscriber list, and to get subscribers to respond to online questions. That way, Arts at Michigan staff could learn more about what the campus community wants in arts-related experiences. "It's a way we can collect that information in an automated way," Herbert says.

The newsletter expansion also was boosted by an agreement last spring with the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitor's Bureau to tap into its off-campus list of arts events and provide the information to the campus community. "It's a way that we compile and centralize information about what happens on campus and what's happening in the community," Herbert says.

Boosting newsletter distribution also has enhanced Arts at Michigan's ability to get students and the campus community engaged in arts activities, as it is becoming a recognized hub or gateway to information about campus arts activity.

Arts at Michigan offers several programs designed to promote student involvement in arts and cultural opportunities on campus and in the community: The Arts Adventure Series offers four dynamic cultural opportunities for $39. It typically combines internationally known artists presented by UMS with student productions from the School of Music.

"You hear comments like, 'It's my fist time in a theater, my first time in a museum,'" Herbert says. "It's planting the seeds."

Artscapade, a collaboration with the U-M Museum of Art during Welcome Week, hosts more than 3,000 incoming students for art-making, live performances, comedy, games and prizes. The Culture Bus program offers bus tours from campus to area arts and cultural attractions. Arts at Michigan, funded through the Academic Affairs division, also contributes to local and area public art initiatives.

While Herbert says the focus is students, "We work with faculty and staff in the way that they connect with students."

For more information, to sign up for the newsletter or to view the events calendar, go to: http://www.arts.umich.edu/.

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