University of Michigan to allocate $20M to bring more art to campus, region

Jaume Plensa sculpture outside University of Michigan's Museum of Art. (Patrick Young, Patrick Young)

ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan has received $20 million to expand access to the arts on its campus and throughout the region.

The school will allocate the funds over five years for its Arts Initiative with the goal of bringing more artists to campus, engaging university audiences and supporting the expansion of the arts across Michigan and the Midwest, according to a release.

“We can be sure that through this initiative, we will be increasing imagination, which is fundamental to learning and discovery,” U-M President Santa J. Ono said in a statement. “Creativity and openness of the arts, coupled with the rigor of the sciences, can provide the inspiration and insights needed to find solutions for the world’s greatest challenges.”

According to a release, the core goals of U-M’s Arts Initiative include:

  • Strengthening the student experience by expanding and integrating the arts in teaching and learning
  • Activating interdisciplinary discovery and arts research
  • Broadening and deepening partnerships with communities and the public
  • Building capacity and sustainability for the arts

“The U-M Arts Initiative presents an incredible opportunity for us to leverage the transformative power of the arts together with the incredible assets and resources at U-M,” managing director of the Arts Initiative Christopher Audain said in a statement. “Our goal is to support students, staff, faculty and artists in their creative endeavors, to the benefit of the region, and ultimately, to help us envision a better world.”

Launched in October 2019, the initiative began as a startup phase with $2 million in funding. A committee was formed to map the array of arts programs at U-M as well as art displayed on campus. The committee conducted listening sessions among colleagues at the university to determine how they can most effectively execute the Arts Initiative’s mission.

As part of the five-year plan, the Arts Initiative was in a startup phase for three years. During that time, it launched several new projects, including its Culture Corps and Creators on Campus programs.

“The university has superb arts resources that generate field-leading discoveries in research and creative practice,” dean of Taubman College and co-chair of the Arts Initiative Jonathan Massey said in a statement. “We educate, inspire and entertain students as well as people from across campus and the region. “Our aim with this initiative is to elevate that work and to increase its impact by connecting those activities to one another and to the work going on in other fields.”

“Our ambitious goal is to make the arts stronger, more cohesive and more visible, thereby transforming their role at the university and benefitting the lives of students and the entire community for years to come,” director of U-M Museum of Art and co-chair of the Arts Initiative Christina Olsen said in a statement.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.