For Freshman

Finding—and supporting—the artist in all of us

Jazz at ARTS FIRST 2015

The Office for the Arts at Harvard (OFA) is in the business of making art making happen for undergraduates and the entire Harvard community. Offering classes in danceceramics and figure drawing, creating theater, working with professional artists from a range of disciplines, playing in an orchestra, singing in a choir, obtaining funding for arts projects and subsidies for music lessons—all of these are in the OFA’s portfolio, which is waiting for you to open and explore.

At its essence, the OFA champions artists—whether first-year Harvard undergraduates or master innovators. Staff and professional instructors comprise the staff of specialists across arts disciplines. Traditional and contemporary aesthetics are integrated into the teaching of co-curricular courses, as well as in the artistic direction of our music ensembles, exhibitions and guest artist programs. The OFA creates connections among practice, theory, and history. It also strives for state-of-the-art practices in the management of many Harvard arts venues.

What’s striking about the artistic community at Harvard is its diversity and the passion of its participants, many of whom will never go on to careers in the arts. That saxophonist in the jazz band who takes on a solo in a Duke Ellington composition? He’s pre-med. The actor tackling Gertrude in Hamlet? She’s got her sights set on law school. And the young woman working with the master artist in the OFA’s ceramics studio might end up running a major corporation some day.

Of course, Harvard has educated hundreds of accomplished artists over the years. When Tommy Lee Jones ’69 received the Harvard Arts Medal in 2012 in recognition of his acting and directing career, he noted, “My experience here [as a Harvard student] is the best thing that’s happened in my creative life, and the reason for that is not simply what I learned, but that I learned how to learn, and I will be grateful for that as long as I live.”

(And don’t just take Mr. Jones’s word for it—to learn more about the importance of the arts and creativity in the lives of Harvard students, visit the OFA’s Harvard Arts Blog)

Whatever your creative journey, we’re here to help you find your way.

-Thomas Lee

Thomas Lee is director of the OFA’s visiting artist program, Learning From Performers, and also director of OFA communications.  

Other Resources at Harvard

For more information on arts opportunities for first-year students, visit the Freshman Dean's Office (FDO) website

The Freshman Arts Program creates a non-competitive environment that encourages exploration in all forms of art, orients artists to the academic and extracurricular arts opportunities at Harvard, and eases the transition into Harvard life. It is a worthy counterpart to FIP, FOP, FUP, and Dorm Crew, and provides a graceful entry into the arts community for a group of freshmen putting a focus on art right at the beginning of a college career. Applications accepted April1–the first Monday in May.