Spotlight Shines on the Arts
Winston Tabb, dean of university
libraries, heads an 18-member task force charged with
charting a strategy to strengthen the arts at
PHOTO BY HPS/WILL KIRK
With cultural activities on the rise, Homewood takes
By Greg Rienzi
While cultural pursuits have never been a primary
aspect of Johns Hopkins' mission, the Homewood campus today
boasts an array of arts programs and facilities, including
the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, Theatre Hopkins, the
Shriver Hall Concert Series, Homewood House Museum and
numerous student organizations, ranging from theater
troupes to a cappella groups. The university, in fact, has
witnessed a great period of growth in its cultural programs
in recent years, most notably the creation of the Mattin
Center, a 53,000-square-foot complex that includes a black
box theater, photography labs and dance and music practice
What JHU has lacked, however, is a shared strategy for
promoting and sustaining the arts at Homewood as a vital
part of the campus's intellectual and cultural life.
To help bridge this gap, a Homewood Arts Task Force
was recently created by Provost Steven Knapp and charged
with producing a set of recommendations designed to enhance
the visibility and impact of the university's existing arts
programs, foster a sense of community around the arts and
develop synergies between JHU and Baltimore City cultural
Winston Tabb, dean of university libraries and chair
of the task force that began its work on Sept. 23, said
that the time has come for Johns Hopkins to craft a
concrete plan of action for how the arts should be woven
into the tapestry of campus life.
The 18-member group tapped to make recommendations
comprises staff, faculty, students and a trustee [see
"I think some of the most important things that we are
setting out to do are to determine what is really working
well already in regard to the arts at Homewood and what is
not working as well as it ought to be," Tabb said. "What we
will determine in the coming months is what urgent problems
there are that need to be solved and what opportunities are
out there to make Johns Hopkins an even richer place."
While still in the information-gathering phase, the
task force will likely focus on three general areas: how
the arts support student life, how the arts could be better
integrated into academic programs and how Hopkins'
activities in the arts relate to the community at large.
Several colleges and universities, among them Columbia
and the University of Chicago, have taken on similar
efforts in recent years. Tabb said one of the major
catalysts for Hopkins' looking into this area was the
recent work of the Commission on Undergraduate Education,
whose final report highlighted the need for a more holistic
experience at Johns Hopkins, one that included personal
enrichment as well as academic rigor.
"Another spur for this effort was the continuing
inadequacy of facilities for the arts. We still see
excessive competition for limited space among our student
groups," he said. "And then there is the competitive edge
aspect. The university has to be appealing in a very broad
way to students and employees to be able to recruit and
retain the best and brightest."
In terms of the purview of the task force, Tabb said
that the group would focus on, but not be limited to,
Homewood arts programs and facilities. Offerings at
Evergreen House and joint ventures with the Peabody
Institute, for example, will be considered.
"We wanted to keep our work at a manageable scope, so
we want to focus on how the arts relate to the Homewood
campus, which includes the academic programs here that have
active relationships with local arts institutions like the
Baltimore Museum of Art and Walters Art Museum, in addition
to Peabody," he said.
Some of the key issues the task force will address are
the relationship between arts programs and
student/faculty/staff recruitment and retention; what
modifications, if any, should be made to the curriculum to
offer students adequate opportunity to study and/or
practice the arts; how the arts at Homewood should be
funded; and how JHU's relationships with Baltimore City
arts organizations might be strengthened.
In addition, the task force will likely look at
Homewood's physical ability to support arts-related
programs and determine what is the optimal way to provide
managerial oversight and coordination for the arts.
Tabb said that the committee will meet often during
the next month to determine the scope of the effort and to
develop a list of specific questions the group needs to
address. Following that, the task force will likely break
into subcommittees to take the lead on specific issues.
The task force will solicit input from existing arts
groups, many of which will have the opportunity to directly
address its members. Tabb said that he wants everyone who
has a stake in the arts at Homewood to have an opportunity
to voice their opinions and concerns.
The task force plans to submit an action plan and list
of recommendations to the provost by May 1.
Homewood Arts Task Force 2004-2005 Members
Eric Beatty, director of the Homewood Arts Program
Doreen Bolger, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art
Pam Buell, executive director of development for leadership
and principal gifts, Development and Alumni Relations
Connie Caplan, chair of the Time Group, JHU trustee and
chair of the Mt. Vernon Cultural District Board
Tom Crain, director of the Odyssey Program, SPSBE
Pam Cranston, associate provost for academic affairs
Linda Delibero, associate director of Film and Media
Doug Fambrough, professor of biology, KSAS
Arielle Goren, senior in international studies, KSAS
Sel Kardan, executive director of the Shriver Hall Concert
Christopher Kovalchik, junior in mechanical engineering,
WSE, and violin performance, Peabody Conservatory
Jim Miller Jr., senior director of design and construction,
Office of Facilities Management
Leah Miller, senior in the Writing Seminars and psychology,
Andrea Prosperetti, Charles A. Miller Professor of
Mechanical Engineering, WSE
Rob Saarnio, director of historic houses and curator of
Eileen Soskin, associate dean for academic affairs, Peabody
Jamie Spangler, junior in biomedical engineering, WSE
Winston Tabb (chair), dean of university libraries
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