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UW Receives $600,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant to Expand Programming on Arts and Creativity

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University of Washington CAS
September 2019
Arts course student painting.

The UW's new grant will support the development of arts courses for undergraduate students. Media credit: Colette Cosner

 

The University of Washington will use a three year, $600,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a new Arts and Creativity Initiative. The initiative will further collaborations between faculty members and visiting artists, spur the design of new introductory arts courses for undergraduate students, and advance creative process as an end in itself.

“We know that creativity, problem-solving and imagination are essential skills for students no matter what major or career path they pursue,” said Catherine Cole, divisional dean of the arts. “Universities play a key role in facilitating artistic innovation, and the Arts and Creativity Initiative will bring together faculty, guest artists and students to deepen knowledge and experiment with new techniques that cross traditional boundaries.”

Through the program Cole and her collaborator Michelle Witt, executive and artistic director of the Meany Center for the Performing Arts, hope to make the arts a part of every UW student’s experience. They intend to use the Arts and Creativity Initiative to design clear pathways for students into an expanded and updated set of courses offerings. This involves greater connections between faculty conducting creative research and teaching, as well as providing opportunities to explore the creative process through Meany Center’s programs.

The UW is uniquely positioned for such an initiative, given the university’s broad array of academic programs in the arts and beyond. Also, the university’s location in Seattle offers faculty members and guests artists the opportunity to study and practice in a community known for artistic talent and culture.

The program builds upon a 2016 Mellon Grant that awarded the UW $750,000 for an interdisciplinary program, known as the Creative Fellowships Initiative, that invited guest artists to campus to collaborate with faculty and students on artistic creation and expression.  The previous grant brought together the UW’s performing arts units – the Schools of Music and Drama, Digital and Experimental Arts (DXARTS), the Department of Dance and the Meany Center for the Performing Arts – for the first time. The additional grant will continue these partnerships and more fully integrate visiting artists into the UW’s undergraduate curriculum.

We know that creativity, problem-solving and imagination are essential skills for students no matter what major or career path they pursue.

Through the 2016 initiative, the UW’s Meany Center for the Performing Arts played host to a number of visiting artists, who collaborated with faculty and showcased new work to the university and greater Seattle communities.

“The twenty-two Creative Fellows, including artists and ensembles, hosted on campus embody how creative research can flourish at a top public research university,” said Witt. “We look forward to continuing the momentum of the Creative Fellowships Initiative to develop coursework and creative research opportunities that have a direct impact on students and give them a broader understanding of the essential role of the arts in our society.”

A call for UW Mellon Faculty Fellows is currently underway, followed by a call for new course pilots. A total of six new classes will be piloted during the three-year duration of the grant.