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Council Celebrates 25 Years of Helping Fund Art Initiatives

By Jennifer Chung
Staff Reporter

Last weekend, the Council for the Arts at MIT celebrated its 25th anniversary with a plethora of happenings to mark the occasion.

The events included a Silver Anniversary ball with a performance by actress, singer, and arts administrator Kitty Carlisle Hart, the presentation of council awards to artists both within and outside of MIT, and the dedication of the new Endicott World Music Center.

Council helps fund projects

"The Council for the Arts at MIT is composed of friends and alumni of MIT who wish to be donors to support the arts at MIT,"said Laura E. Moses, an administrative assistant in the Office of the Associate Provost for the Arts. Members of the council have contributed over $18 million to MIT performances, exhibitions, arts facilities, collections, and co-curricular programs.

Due to the council's work, MIT students can visit the Museum of Fine Arts and certain Boston Symphony Orchestra performances at no cost. Particular groups and members of the MIT community have received over $1 million to fund over 1,000 arts projects through a grants program.

Members create music center

One of the more international of the events during the weekend was the dedication of the Endicott World Music Center, located on the ground floor of Building N42, below the MIT Museum. Prior to the dedication ceremony, council members were treated to a tour of the museum by artists Felice Frankel, research scientist in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Arthur Ganson, whose works are currently being exhibited.

The Endicott dedication ceremony itself featured musical performances by the MITHeritage of the Arts of South Asia, Gamelan Galak Tika,which features Balinese music and dance, and MITCAN, an African music group. All three ensembles have been using the center for practice and the storage of traditional instruments since its completion a few months ago.

The music center was completely funded by Bradford M. Endicott '49 and his wife Dorothea, both members of the council. "Alan Brody [the associate provost for the arts] found the space,"Bradford Endicott said. "At last year's meeting, someone mentioned that the room was looking for funding. The size of the project was small enough for us to take it up."

"I'm really happy to see the stereotypical engineer smashed,"said Dorothea Endicott, a cellist, speaking of the large number of arts groups on campus. "Also, with this room, students can now spend time rehearsing, instead of lugging instruments back and forth."

"As alumni have become successful, they've discovered the arts. The council is a way for alumni to stay attached to MIT,"Bradford Endicott said. He is typical of many of council members, he said. "I came to this school with no previous arts curriculum experience. Iremember taking an intro to music class and finding it fascinating."

Music center new home to groups

James Makubuya, assistant professor in the Music and Theater Arts department, formed MITCAN to allow students to experience African music.

"I cannot overemphasize how happy I am to have this room to practice in,"Makubuya said. "Not only that, but the Council for the Arts funded the purchase of more than 83 traditional African instruments," including bow lyres, harps, tube fiddles, and flutes.

"We thank the people who have donated the room to us,"Makubuya said in a speech prior to the group's performance. "Now we are no longer homeless."

"Last year," said Patrick C. Chou G, chairman of MITCAN, "if we were lucky, we would rehearse in the basement at Kresge, or Lobby 13. Lobby 13 is the worst place to play a drum."

Council helps individual projects

The council also helps fund individuals. Michael J. Rakowitz G, a graduate student in the School of Architecture's Visual Arts program, received funding from the Council's Grants Program to create a portable, inflatable shelter for the homeless which he calls theparaSite. The project would attach itself to the air duct of a building to receive a constant air stream which inflates its walls.

"Ihad been thinking about this for a long time,"Rakowitz said. "So, I decided to take a class in nomadic design."The project was originally an assignment for the class, but after the class ended, Rakowitz began producing prototypes. He ran into difficulties when he realized that he did not have the budget to build a full-scale model with more durable materials.

That's when the council came in. "I knew about [the council] before coming to MIT," Rakowitz said. "I had researched to make sure that there was a group associated with the institute which actively supported and funded the arts." With the support of the council, Rakowitz is continuing to work on the project.