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Inspiring Arts Exploration

ArtsUW Website Redesigned with Students in Mind

ArtsUW website screenshot


“We want the arts to be part of the DNA of every student’s experience.”

That bold vision, offered by Catherine Cole, divisional dean for the arts in the UW College of Arts and Sciences, is getting a boost this month with the launch of an expanded ArtsUW website designed with students in mind. The website highlights an array of opportunities for arts exploration on campus, from upcoming performances and exhibits to courses in the arts. Special one-time offerings, such as free workshops with renowned visiting artists, are also featured. For those wanting to dive deeper, the site provides information about majors and minors in the Arts Division.

We want the arts to be part of the DNA of every student’s experience.

As in the past, the ArtsUW site also serves as a resource for the public — a place to learn about and purchase tickets for upcoming University of Washington arts events. “ArtsUW has always done the important work of centralizing and bringing visibility to our events and selling tickets,” says Cole. “But while the first version was transactional, the new version aims to be transformational. We want all students to have transformational experiences in the arts during their time at the University, and we’re giving them pathways to do so.”

Four students working with clay in pottery class

Many students arrive at the University with minimal exposure to the arts, particularly given shrinking budgets for K-12 arts education. ArtsUW was expanded with that audience in mind. Undergraduates provided essential input on what information should be included.  

“We in the Arts Division feel a great urgency to reach the non-arts student population in a period of their life when they are particularly open to new experiences,” says Cole. To encourage exploration, the site’s event calendar identifies performances that are free, and the highlighted courses — curated and updated by department advisers each quarter — favor classes that are welcoming to non-arts students. Arts 180, for example, prepares students as audience members before they attend assigned plays, art exhibitions, and music and dance concerts throughout the quarter.

For those still hesitant to dip their toe in the arts, Cole points out a career benefit: the arts help develop creativity, shown to be essential for careers in the 21st century. “Change is happening so quickly,” Cole says of the employment landscape. “Employers are looking for people who can step into a situation and think outside the box. Through the arts, we are training students to have that flexibility, to be prepared for jobs that don’t yet exist. Hopefully our students discover they love the arts along the way.”