First Creative Campus Class Reports In

As I have been reading blog entries about the recent Association of Performing Arts Presenters annual conference, (APAP) I have seen mentions of Creative Campus project presentations. Since this information isn’t widely disseminated, I thought I would give the projects and the participating organizations some publicity to share the news of their success.

First a little history, APAP administers the grants program but the original idea emerged back in 2004 at the 104th American Assembly. (The paper they produced on the concept may be found here.) The first group of projects is drawing to a close (though some were only one year projects and have been completed) and the granting for the next group is in process.

Many of the organizations in the first group created dedicated webpages to archive their efforts which you may be interested in visiting.

Dartmouth College dedicated themselves to exploring the class divide in the surrounding community as well as within the college community.

The University of Nebraska Lied Center worked with multimedia performance group Troika Ranch to create a new performance piece, bring the disparate departments of the university together in creative experiences, and most interesting to me, adapt motion performance software for modern dance for use with rehabilitation patients.

This is not to be confused with the efforts of the University of Kansas Lied Center’s project, Tree of Life Creativity – Origins and Evolution which involved a intra-campus collaboration as well as partnerships with other campuses.

The University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium, still displaced by the damage caused by the flooding of summer 2007, commissioned the development of a world premiere, Eye Piece, in cooperation with various departments. The work explores the process of gradually losing eye sight. The topic may seem a strange one until you learn that the university’s Carver Family Center for Macular Degeneration was a project participant.

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s current theme is Diasporas. I say current, because it the description implies there is a different theme each year. Indeed, the APAP website information about the project lead me to believe it was about the death penalty. The university’s some times controversial summer reading program is a partner in this project along with the departments of communications, dramatic arts and resident LORT company, Playmakers Rep.

I wasn’t able to find information about their respective projects on the Hostos Community College or Stanford University sites, so the final project is Wesleyan University’s Feet to the Fire on global warming. This project involved interdisciplinary learning that appears to have permeated every corner of campus activities and moved out into the surrounding community. From the video summary of the project, it sounds like people who attended their events felt the power of the arts was essential to getting the message across, as was suggested in recent posting.

Even though the project officially ended last June, the university has continued to provide the experiences they initiated. Like most grant programs, I am pretty sure this was the goal–that the funded initiative will be perpetuated. If you are inspired by what you see, it is unfortunately too late to get into the current grant cycle. But it is the perfect time to start conversations about what you might like to do–including prodding a local university member of APAP to get involved.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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