OFA History

Timeline of OFA History, 1973-2021


Prof. James S. Ackerman Committee on the arts recommends to Pres. Derek Bok establishing permanent office to coordinate the extracurricular arts at Harvard (June).

Office for the Arts at Harvard and Radcliffe (OFA) established by Radcliffe President Matina Horner and Harvard President Derek Bok (Sept.). Myra Mayman hired as director. Located at Agassiz House in Radclife Yard.


FAS votes to establish a new standing committee, the Council on the Arts (March).

First Practice & Performance guide to Harvard-Radcliffe arts groups published. A four-page publication (that eventually grew to thirty-seven pages) listing curricular and extracurricular courses, programs, and activities (Sept.).


OFA Grants for innovative arts projects initiated: 21 grants awarded to houses, organizations, and individuals (Oct.).

Learning From Performers program inaugurated; jazz pianist Les McCann is first artist-in-residence, at Lowell House (Nov.). Other artists include producer Hal Prince and composer Stephen Sondheim (Nov. 20 and 24, respectively), dancer/choreographer Meredith Monk (Feb. 14, 1976), jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan (March 1, 1976).

Arts Spectrum inaugurated as bi-weekly publication (April).


Harvard-Radcliffe Dance Company grows out of Radcliffe Dance Program; premiere performance, Agassiz Theatre (May).


OFA produces Who’s That Banging on the Piano?, promotional film on the arts at Harvard and Radcliffe (Nov.).

The Jazz Tradition, a credit course funded by the OFA is initiated, taught by Tom Everett through the African-American Studies and Music Departments.


OFA sponsors jazz artist residency with Harvard Jazz Band featuring pianists John Lewis and Bill Evans; OFA commissions John Lewis to compose "The Gates of Harvard," its first jazz commissioned work. performed at Sanders Theatre and later performed at Montreux Jazz Festival (April).


Aladdin, original production written and directed by Tim Mayer ‘66, music by Peter Ivers ‘68, performed by students and alumni/ae in Agassiz Theatre (March).

OFA-sponsored jazz artist-in-residence Slide Hampton performs with Harvard Jazz Band at Sanders Theatre; cited as one of year's "10 Best" by Boston Globe (April).

Radcliffe's newly renovated Agassiz Theatre benefits from the opening performance of Pirates of Penzance, the twenty-fifth anniversary show of the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan (Dec.).


Radcliffe Dance Program and Learning From Performers present Dance Week: eight alumni/ae, including Rika Burnham ’72 and Erick Hawkins ’32, conduct classes and workshops (April).

Radcliffe Gym renovated, renamed Radcliffe Dance Center (Sept.).


Citystep established by Sabrina Peck ’84 with OFA grant (Oct.).

OFA sponsors Harvard Jazz Band's 10th Annual spring concert, "TrumpEtudes and Band Aids," with Lester Bowie, Jack Sheldon, and Johnny Letman (Apr.).


Peter Sellars ’80 directs Monkey eating peach, rat stealing pumpkin, phoenix among the peonies in the Indoor Athletic Building (now the Malkin Athletic Center) in celebration of OFA’s 10th anniversary (March).

"Salute to Busby Berkeley and Agassiz Theatre," choreographed by Claire Mallardi and performed by Radcliffe Dance Program students at Agassiz Theatre (May).


"Tappin’ at the Agassiz: A Tribute to Leon Collins," performance in Agassiz Theatre featuring several dance artists honors local tap-dance legend (Feb.).

"Severe Clear," collaborative sculptural installation and dance performance by visiting artists Dana Reitz and James Turrell, Radcliffe Dance Center; production honored with Dance Foundation’s "Bessie Award" for outstanding work performed outside of New York City (May).

"Style and Development of Film Narrative," two-week film production workshop taught by Peter Ivers Visiting Artist Tim Hunter ’68 (Nov.).


"Movement for Actors," a credit course taught by Claire Mallardi, initiated (Sept.).

"Structure and Form Through Movement and Music," cross-departmental course taught by Claire Mallardi, Radcliffe Dance Program, and Luise Vosgerchian, Dept. of Music initiated (Sept.).

Harvard 350th anniversary celebration launched with undergraduate concert in Tercentenary Theatre (Oct.).


Total number of student arts groups increases from 115 in 1981-82 to 184 in 1986-87.

"The Jazz Reunion: 15 Years of Jazz" features Harvard Jazz Band with guest artists Lester Bowie, Illinois Jacquet, Don Braden ’85, Paul Brusiloff ’86, Bob Merrill ’81, Steve Sacks ’75, Fred Houn (now Ho) ’79, Sara Lazarus ’84 (April).

Radcliffe Ceramics Program (formerly Pottery Program) moves to new quarters at 219 Western Ave., Allston (April).


OFA initiates temporary projects in public art: "Three Artists Work With the Radcliffe Quad Landscape," site-specific installations created by Michael Van Valkenburgh (Feb.), Ross Miller (April), Martha Schwartz (May).

"A Salute to Benny Carter," tribute to composer and saxophonist Carter includes Sanders Theatre concert with Harvard Jazz Band and professional guests (April).


Radcliffe Filmmakers Reunion: Learning From Performers convenes nine recent graduates to present and discuss their work (Feb.-April).

Public Art Project: Marshall Cogan Visiting Artist Bert Snow creates "Gargoyles," site-specific sculptural installation for Cabot House grand entry (April).

Radcliffe Dance Program Film Series: Early Modern Dance Choreography, Agassiz Theatre (Oct.).


First performance by Choreographers’ Ink, performing arm of Radcliffe Dance Program (April).

Public Art Project: Marty Cain’s "Site Lines" opens at Cabot House and Radcliffe Quadrangle (April).

"A Tribute to Buck Clayton," honoring the legendary trumpeter and composer, includes Sanders Theatre concert with Harvard Jazz Band and guest artist Harry "Sweets" Edison (April).

Technical Theatre workshop initiated by Alan Symonds/Adam Kibbe in Agassiz Theatre (Sept.).

"A Tribute to Mario Bauza," concert co-sponsored by OFA and Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion featuring Afro-Cuban maestro and Harvard Jazz named "One of the Year’s 10 Best in World Music" by Boston Globe critic Fernando Gonzales (Dec.).


OFA sponsors Harvard Jazz Band’s 17th annual spring concert, a celebration of the jazz band's 20th anniversary, with guest artists Jimmy Knepper and Carl Fontana, Sanders Theatre (April).

Radcliffe Ceramics Studio hosts 35 ceramics students, graduate students and faculty from Ewha University, a women's university in Korea (June).

The Sweating Door Alarm conceived and directed with students by Peter Ivers Visiting Artist Douglas Fitch ’82 in Agassiz Theatre (Oct).

Sanders Theatre presents performance artist Laurie Anderson in concert; she also participates in Learning From Performers discussion with students (Nov.).


"A tribute to Andrew Hill," 18th annual jazz concert featuring composers who inspired and influenced Hill—Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk, and Charles Mingus. Two works commissioned by the Office for the Arts premiered (April).

Publication: Five Views, One Landscape: Experiments in Public Art at Harvard and Radcliffe (May).


De Ama Battle, Art of Black Dance and Music, joins Radcliffe Dance Program faculty (Sept.).

"Invention/Intervention: Focusing the Arts and Sciences on the Environment," four-part series presented by Learning From Performers, brings artists and scientists together to discuss environmental issues (Oct., also Nov., Feb., and April).

Annual ARTS FIRST festival inaugurated; 1200 students perform, 50 work behind the scenes, 14 ARTS FIRST grants awarded (May).

OFA takes on oversight of development and administration of Memorial Hall/Lowell Hall complex: Sanders Theatre/Lowell Hall, Alumni Hall, and to-be-built Loker Commons (June).


Radcliffe Ceramics Studio marks 25th year with the theme "Celebrating Longevity"; over-65 ceramists Ruth Duckworth and Yasuke Aida present symposia (Oct.).

Radcliffe Dance Program adds class in flamenco taught by Omayra Amaya (Feb.).

OFA sponsors Harvard Jazz Band's 20th annual spring concert, "A Tribute to Steve Lacy," featuring Steve Lacy as well as guest artists Irene Aebi, Don Byron, Roswell Rudd and Ed Schuller.

Peter Ivers Visiting Artist Sabrina Peck ’84 creates The Garden in Winter, dance/theater performance with students, Agassiz Theatre (March).

OFA launches and oversees six-month residency by British artist David Ward in collaboration with the Carpenter Center, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University Art Museums and the VES Department; "Canopy," Ward's site-specific sound/light installation, opens in Harvard Yard. Project is named "One of the Year’s 10 Best Visual Arts Events" by Christine Temin, Boston Globe. (June).


OFA administrative headquarters move to 74 Mt. Auburn St., shared with Harvard Bands (March). (74 Mt. Auburn St. was previously home to the Iroquois Club, Sanctuary Inc., and Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel.)

OFA participates in Cambridge’s Commission on the Arts in the 21st Century (April).

First Harvard Arts Medal awarded to Jack Lemmon ’47 at 3rd annual ARTS FIRST (April).

Freshmen Arts Program inaugurated by Alan Symonds, Agassiz Theatre (Sept.).

Annenberg Hall and Loker Commons open at Memorial Hall (Sept.).

Studio 74, dance rehearsal space at 74 Mt. Auburn St., opens for student use (Oct.)


Pete Seeger ’40 awarded Harvard Arts Medal at 4th annual ARTS FIRST (April).

"The Great Sanders Restoration Recital: Playing for Keeps," all-piano concert featuring alumni, faculty, and student performers inaugurating the newly-restored Sanders Theatre, named one of the year's "10 Best Classical Music Events" by the Boston Phoenix (Sept.).


Choreographer Elizabeth Streb (1997 MacArthur Fellowship winner) participates in week-long "January Intensive"—workshops and lecture—co-sponsored by Radcliffe Dance Program and Learning From Performers (Jan.).

OFA sponsors Harvard Jazz Band 25th anniversary concert in Sanders Theatre, featuring guest artists Illinois Jacquet, Don Braden ’85, Fred Ho ’79 (April).

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to Bonnie Raitt ’72 during 5th annual ARTS FIRST (April).

Kathryn Walker, Artist in Residence at Radcliffe College, directs Euripides’s The Bacchae with student and professional actors in Agassiz Theatre (Oct.).


Radcliffe Dance Center dedicated as the Amelia Tataronis Rieman Center for the Performing Arts (April).

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to John Updike ’54 at 6th annual ARTS FIRST (May).

Peter Ivers Visiting Artist George Whiteside ’86 and collaborating students create Out of the Marzipan, dance performance in Agassiz Theatre (May).

Public Art Project: Marshall S. Cogan Visiting Artist Richard Fleischner creates and installs a site-specific artwork on the building facade of OFA headquarters at 74 Mt. Auburn St. Named Harvard University Project, the multifaceted copper artwork is a 8-by-16 foot sculptural arc made of three layers of laquered copper leaf over copper plate (May).

OFA celebrates 25th year with alumni/ae artists participating in master classes, workshops, performances with undergraduates.


Harvard Arts Medal awarded to David Hays '52 at 7th annual ARTS FIRST (May).

The Harvard Box Office (formerly Sanders Theatre box office), a service of the OFA, locates into the former BosTix at Harvard ticket booth (1997-1999) in the Holyoke Center Arcade for advance ticket sales (July).


Harvard Arts Medal awarded to John Harbison '60 at 8th annual ARTS FIRST (May).


Harvard Arts Medal awarded to Peter Sellars ’80 at 9th annual ARTS FIRST (May).

Myra Mayman, founding director of the OFA, step downs after 27 years of leadership (June).

Jack Megan, executive director of the Longy School of Music, joins as director of the OFA (July).

Laurie Anderson, avant-garde multimedia performance artist, performs at Sanders Theater four days after September 11th (September).


Learning from Performers welcomes Visiting Artists: actor and vocalist Mandy Patinkin, film director Ed Zwick ‘74, novelist Eileen Myles, vocalist Sara Lazarus, choreographer Rob Ashford, pianist Joanne Brakeen.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to William Christie '66 at 10th annual ARTS FIRST (May).


OFA sponsors an artist in residency with The Boys Choir of Harlem, the youngest visiting artists ever honored at Harvard (Feb).

Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: choreographer Mark Morris, musical theater composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens, visual artist Lee Mingwei, film director Mira Nair in a discussion with John Lithgow, Bat Boy composer Larry O'Keefe.

OFA and the Harvard Jazz Band sponsored "Beyond Recall: The Progressive Tradition in Jazz" with trumpeter Dave Douglas, trombonist Roswell Rudd, saxophonist Charlie Kohlhasse, drummer Barry Altschul and bassist Brad Jone (April).

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to Mira Nair ‘79 at 11th annual ARTS FIRST (May).


This year, Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: music master Quincy Jones, pianist and composer Randy Newman, visual artist Jody Pinto, jazz guitarist Jim Hall, playwright, actor Betty Shamieh.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to Yo-Yo Ma ‘76 at 12th annual ARTS FIRST (May).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: playwright Tony Kushner, Peter Ivers of the Pig Iron Theatre Company, pianist Hank Jones, playwright and actor Charles Busch, DJ Spooky, actor and vocalist Faith Price, conductor Leonard Slatkin, The Silk Road Ensemble and vocalist Dawn Upshaw.

Historic Hasty Pudding Theatre closes for a two-year renovation into a new undergraduate drama facility (May).

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to Maxine Kumin '4 at 13th annual ARTS FIRST (May).

New Harvard Dance Center at the Radcliffe Quadrangle opens, a state-of-the-art 4100-square-foot studio, replacing the Reiman Center (September).

OFA and Harvard Department of Music inaugurated five-year collaboration with the Silk Road Project, a cultural exchange founded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’67 (September).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: Cellist Matt Haimovitz ’96, visual artist Brian Knep, vocalist Jon Hendricks, composer Adam Guettel, conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, performers Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione of The Dresden Dolls.

OFA Jazz Program sponsors In the Spirit of Duke, featuring guest artist Jon Hendricks music from Ellington's Sacred Concert, with the Harvard Jazz Band (April).

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to playwright Christopher Durang ‘71 at 14th annual ARTS FIRST (May).

Alan Symonds ’69-‘76, long-time Technical Director for Harvard College Theatre Programs at the OFA, passes away (June).

Leonard Bernstein: Boston to Broadway, a three-day festival celebrating Leonard Bernstein ’39, organized by the Department of Music and the Office for the Arts at Harvard (Oct).


"Deep Wounds," 2006 public art project by Brian Knep commissioned by OFA Public Art Program, receives award from International Association of Arts Critics/New England (February).

OFA Dance program's "Dancers' Viewpointe VII" concert features premiere by choreographer Scott Rink, plus excerpts from George Balanchine's "Serenade" (February).

Dramatic Arts 27, "Advanced Ballet and Repertory," taught by former New York City Ballet principal Heather Watts (spring term).

Artist Development Fellowships program inaugurated by OFA and Office of Career Services; 12 students awarded fellowships supporting their artistic development (spring term).

OFA Jazz Program and Harvard Jazz Bands present "The Afro-Cuban Connection," a residency honoring nine-time Grammy award winner, pianist Eddie Palmieri, also featuring guest trumpeter Brian Lynch (April).

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to composer John Adams '69 AM '72 at the 15th annual ARTS FIRST (April).

OFA Ceramics Program Director Nancy Selvage commissioned by Cambridge Arts Council to create "Water Wall," public art project for Trolley Square in North Cambridge (late spring).

Produced by the OFA at Sanders Theatre, "Prelude to an Inauguration" honors newly appointed Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust with performances by banjoist Alison Brown '84 and her band, violinist Stefan Jackiw '07, pianist Robert Levin '68, saxophonist/composer Joshua Redman '91 and actor John Lithgow '67, among others (October).


Veteran musical theater composers Stephen Schwartz and Marvin Hamlisch, and performers Bebe Neuwirth and Donna McKechnie, highlight roster of Learning From Performers visiting artists (spring term).

OFA Dance Program receives "American Masterpieces: Dance" grant from the National Endowment for the Arts' "Dance USA" program to support staging of Paul Taylor's "Aureole" for Dancers' Viewpointe VIII" concert (spring term).

OFA Jazz Program and Harvard Jazz Bands present "Along Came Benny," residency honoring composer/saxophonist Benny Golson, also featuring pianist Mulgrew Miller (April).

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to saxophonist/composer Joshua Redman '91 at the 16th annual ARTS FIRST (May).

OFA and Music Department announce retirement of Dr. James Yannatos, conductor of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra and Senior Lecturer in Music since 1964 (October).

Harvard Arts Task Force report issued by the Office of the President; OFA Director Jack Megan serves on Task Force committee, among other members (December).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: percussionist Roy Haynes, actor/vocalist Michael Cerveris, vocalist/composer Peter Eldridge, artist collective Fierce Pussy, playwright Sarah Schulman, Punchdrunk directors Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega and actor Blair Underwood.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to John Ashbery ’49 at the 17th annual ARTS FIRST (May).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: choreographer Liz Lerman, soprano Renee Fleming, pianist Ursula Oppens, composer Joshua Schmidt, poet Valerie Gillies, visual artist Catherine Lord, singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash, composer-lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, pianist Alfred Brendel, filmmakers Bobby and Peter Farrelly, singer/songwriters Duncan Sheik and Suzanne Vega.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to visual artist, writer, and curator Catherine Lord ‘71 at the 18th annual ARTS FIRST (April).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: comedian/playwright/author/actor Lewis Black, playwright/librettist/lyricist/screenwriter Steven Sater, TV and film writer/producer Carlton Cuse, composer/arranger/music director Brad Ellis, actor Laura Linney, trombonist/composer Curtis Fuller, a Master Class with Lang Lang, singer/songwriter Jon McLaughlin, playwrights Charles Busch and Matthew Lombardo, TV writer/producer Agnes Nixon.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to documentary photographer Susan Meiselas EdM ’71 at the 19th annual ARTS FIRST (April).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: cross-cultural collective Silk Road Ensemble, conductor/composer/musicologist Vladimir Morosan, playwright Ella Hickson, pianist Menahem Pressler, record producer and writer Michael Cuscuna, saxophonist/composer David Liebman, Alvin Ailey artistic director Robert Battle, playwright David Adjmi, playwright/director/actor/singer-songwriter Taylor Mac, composer/lyricist Michael Friedman.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to actor and director Tommy Lee Jones ’69 at the 20th annual ARTS FIRST (April).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: actor/vocalist Christine Ebersole, actor/vocalist Kristin Chenoweth, a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, vocalist/actor Barbara Cook, Trumpeter Eddie Henderson, photographer/cinematographer Sandesh Kadur, director/writer/actor Lonny Price, visual artist Janet Echelman, scriptwriter Loring Mandel, actor/vocalist Brian Stokes Mitchell, documentary photographer/filmmaker Lauren Greenfield.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to actor, writer, producer Matt Damon '92 at the 21st annual ARTS FIRST (April).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: playwright/screenwriter Alfred Uhry, actress Laverne Cox, ukulele player/composer Jake Shimabukuro, puppeteer Joshua Holden, director Bartlett Sher, screenwriter/director/producer Vince Gilligan, filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, pianist Jonathan Biss, violinist Regina Carter, trumpeter/composer Wallace Roney, composer/lyricist Larry O’Keefe.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to author, poet and environmental activist Margaret Atwood AM ’62 Litt.D. '04 at the 22nd annual ARTS FIRST (May).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: pianist Angela Hewitt, ballerina Wendy Whelan, dancer/choreographer Brian Brooks, artistic director of Reggie Wilson, composer Andrew Lippa, music producer Jonathan Shecter, jazz masters George Coleman and Harold Mabern, composer Tania Leon, pianist/composer Vijay Iyer Trio, producer Michael Roiff,  vocalist Angélique Kidjo, actor/TV writer Alison Rich.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to dancer/arts leader Damian Woetzel MPA ‘07 at the 23rd annual ARTS FIRST (April).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: writer Nell Scovell, pediatrician/TV writer Neal Baer, President of Directors Guild of America Paris Barclay, composer Jeanine Tesori, composer Gabriel Kahane, actors Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, composer/bassist Rufus Reid, filmmaker Micah Fink, actor/vocalist Patrick Wilson, musical theatre composer Ryan Scott Oliver, singer/pianist Dena Derose, conductor Gustavo Dudamel, actor/vocalist Laura Osnes, Conductor Andris Nelsons.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to award-winning architect Frank Gehry GSD ’57 ArD ‘00 at the 24th annual ARTS FIRST (April).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: playwright Sharon Bridgforth, classical guitarist Daiana Ferreira Da Costa, vocalist/musician Cassandra Wilson, vocalist Angélique Kidjo, playwright Jaclyn Backhaus, beatboxer Chesney Snow, muralist Paul Deo, actor/activist/playwright Hanane Hajj Ali.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to award-winning actor John Lithgow ’67 ArD ’05 at the 25th annual ARTS FIRST (April).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: violinist Stefan Jackiw, pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill, vocalist Davóne Tines, composer Michael Schachter, comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade, musician David Crosby, TV writer Mike Reiss, composer/playwright Min Kahng, saxophonist Bill Pierce, film producer Darla Anderson.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to author and Pulitzer Prize-winner Colson Whitehead ’91 at the 26th annual ARTS FIRST (April).

The Harvard Box Office, a service of the OFA, relocates to the newly renovated Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center (formerly Holyoke Center) for advance ticket sales after a temporary location in Farkas Hall during construction (September).


Learning from Performers welcomed Visiting Artists: playwright Celine Song, director Sammi Cannold, composer/activist Meklit Hadero, singer/storyteller Sara Porkalob, musician Terrace Martin, composer/lyricist Timothy Huang, pianist Angela Hewitt, actor BD Wong, musician Rhiannon Giddens, TV writer Daniel Rogers, fashion designer Walé Oyéjidé, poet Joan Naviyuk Kane, bass vocalist Morris Robinson.

Harvard Arts Medal awarded to U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith '94 at the 27th annual ARTS FIRST (May).


Before the University de-densified because of Covid-19 in March 2020, the OFA hosted percussionist and composer Terri Lyne Carrington, writers Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, and musician Bria Skonberg. The Harvard Arts Medal was awarded to musician, actor, and politician Rubén Blades LL.M. ‘85 but the awarding of the medal has been delayed until 2022. During 2021, the OFA developed virtual programming featuring Jameela Jamil, Orlando Bloom, Lawrence Brownlee, the first ever Harvard Student Composers Festival – CompFest – with many students, faculty members, alumni and professional artists including Tania Leon and Joshua Redman '91.