Be patient, arts leaders, a sweet future is cooking

by Minji Kim

Professors and student leaders in all fields of the arts gathered Friday, April 2 for a reception at the New College Theatre. This was a chance for all the arts leaders on campus to take some time from their busy schedules to come together and foster a stronger arts community as the administration continues to try to meet the goals of the task force laid out just over a year ago in 2008.

More than 100 people were invited, and while not everyone on the golden list of leaders showed up, the room was packed with vibrant, passionate undergraduates and faculty members dedicated to furthering a more artistic campus. Donned with nifty, white name tags of the organizations they represent and their positions, the reception’s attendees discussed their roles on campus and bonded over HUDS-catered cheeses and pastries and their common love of the arts.

The reception was prefaced by a brief introduction by Jack Megan, the director of the Office for the Arts, and an address by Professor Robin Kelsey, a History of Art and Architecture professor and chairman of the Harvard University Committee on the Arts (HUCA).

Kelsey’s speech set an optimistic tone for the reception, as he stood at his "podium of brownies signifying the abundance of possibilities for the future of arts at Harvard." He reassured his audience that despite budget cuts, the committee was dedicated to move as soon as possible from the conversation phase to the next step. Afterwards, his speech gave way to a Q&A session, and students asked pointed questions about the administration’s mission and progress.

One question was about students’ roles in the arts initiative (this was a reception for Harvard arts leaders, after all). Kelsey urged the students to continue with their enthusiasm.

"What I’d love to see is just for students to use their creativity and ingenuity, to take the initiative to promote their own arts [activities]," said Kelsey.

Despite the understandable lag in major reforms and somewhat flat advice, the leaders who were at the reception were pleased with Kelsey’s confidence and HUCA endeavors so far. There is still a long way to go, but the goals are ambitious, the students patient, and the administration optimistic. The future sees fair and sweeping winds for the arts at Harvard.

"Even though it might not happen right now, while we’re still here, just the fact that it’s actually part of the discussion is exciting," said Alissa Schapiro, co-director of the Harvard Student Art Show.

[Caption: Robin Kelsey, chairman of HUCA, spoke to arts leaders about a promising future. PHOTOS by Minji Kim ]

[Caption: Jack Megan welcomed arts leaders to the New College Theatre reception.]