An open door to the arts

by Alicia Anstead

Each fall, the Office for the Arts hosts an Open House to welcome students and generate buzz about the arts at Harvard. This year's Open House is noon-3 p.m. Tuesday, August 30, at 74 Mt. Auburn Street. The Master of Ceremonies is -- no other than -- OFA direcctor Jack Megan. Harvard Arts Beat blog caught up with Megan earlier this summer to ask him about the Open House and the role of the arts both at Harvard and in his own life. Here are our FAQ about OFA. Read on to learn more about Megan, the Open House and why you should show up for this annual gathering.

You're hosting an open house at the Office for the Arts at Harvard. Sounds kinda stuffy. What's cool about the event?

First of all, the OFA is never stuffy — and this open house promises to be especially far from stuffy because we have some way-cool students, arts leaders, funders and program people ready to tell Harvard freshman all about the arts here in Cambridge. This will be a chance for freshman actors to meet theater leaders from American Repertory Theater, the OFA and the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club; for musicians to meet conductors and staff of our twelve professionally-led choruses and orchestras; for dancers to meet the OFA dance staff; for studio artists to learn about figure drawing, grants, ceramics and much more. So what’s cool is that the room will be filled with artists, arts managers, dynamic students and a lot of creative energy. Oh, and food! Did I say that?

What's the one thing you would like students to know about OFA?

That we are excited about them. The student energy drives the Harvard arts community, and each year’s crop of freshmen brings new interests and talents. That new energy motivates everyone at the OFA, and we are eager to help students realize their creative aspirations. Harvard is a very large and decentralized environment — one that can be confusing for those just joining the community. I hope every student will know that the place to start for any creative interest is the OFA. We are the hub of the wheel, and we can send students down the right spoke to the perfect creative opportunity. (Apologies for the bike metaphor. Just finished watching highlights of the Tour de France. No kidding!).

What's the last live arts event you saw/heard?

Ahem. Taylor Swift. I have a 16-year-old daughter. Need I say more? It was just me and 50,000 of my closest adolescent friends and parents in Gillette Stadium. "Romeo save me. I don’t want to be alone..." sung in unison by the masses. I’m feeling better now. It’s been a few weeks.

What's on your iPod/MP3/car CD player?

Discs scattered around my car this morning and/or in the auto CD player: Janis Joplin and Full Tilt Boogie’s Pearl; Beethoven’s 9th for a project I’m working on; Elvis Costello (because my colleague, Tom Lee, tells me he’s great; I’m not so sure...); Dexter Gordon’s Round Midnight II, which has a killer arrangement of What is This Thing Called Love done by Bobby McFerrin and Herbie Hancock; Continuum by John Mayer (and he truly is a fine guitar player; not just a pop heart throb); and Shostakovich's 24 Preludes.