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Office of the Arts

By Lynn Heinemann

At MIT, you can find your heart’s desire as well as fulfill your desire for arts. MIT’s breadth of creative endeavor extends beyond the labs and Athena clusters and into every corner of the Institute. The Office of the Arts is MIT’s central resource for arts, acting as both an umbrella for MIT’s ubiquitous arts scene and as an administrative arts headquarters.

“Many students don’t realize what terrific opportunities, programs and services are available to MIT students through the Office of the Arts,” said Mary Haller, Director of Arts Communication in the OA. “From free tickets to the Boston Symphony to funding for student art projects, we try to support and encourage students in their artistic interests and endeavors.”

Under the direction of the Associate Provost for the Arts, the OA oversees, supports, and promotes arts activities on campus through its three branches: Special Programs, which runs the Artist-in-Residence Program, bringing both renowned and emerging artists to campus; the Council for the Arts at MIT, a volunteer group of alumni and friends established to foster the arts at MIT; and Arts Communication, which publishes and disseminates up-to-date information on MIT’s arts programs and events while promoting and cultivating awareness of the arts at MIT, both within and outside the Institute.

The following are some of the resources and “freebies” offered by the OA. For details -- and to get more information on MIT arts programs, activities and events -- visit the Arts at MIT web site at < arts> or stop by the OA at E15-205.

Free tickets anyone?

The Council for the Arts at MIT offers MIT students free tickets to some of the area’s finest music, theater, and dance events. Past excursions have included the National Ballet du Senegal, Mark Morris Dance Group, Anna Deveare Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 and the Cantata Singers.

The Council for the Arts also sponsors a program with the Boston Symphony Orchestra whereby MIT students can obtain free tickets for selected concerts during the BSO’s Symphony Hall season. Call the MIT/BSO ticket line at 638-9478 after 10 a.m. on the day of the concert for information on ticket availability.

In addition, the Council funds MIT’s membership with Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, so that students can receive free admission to the MFA as well as discounts to the MFA Bookstore and Shop. Just show your MIT ID at the museum.

Artist’s support

An easel is not your only means of support. Through the Council for the Arts Grants Program, everyone at MIT can apply for funding for arts projects in all disciplines. The only constraints are time and imagination, as grants range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Three times a year, the Council Grants Committee reviews applications from students, faculty and staff and awards grants based on the quality and innovation of the project and on its potential for involving MIT students. Since 1974, the Council has awarded over one million dollars to over 1,000 projects. The year’s first deadline is Friday, September 24. For more information call x3-4005.

The MIT Arts Scholars Program, inaugurated last year, nurtures students’ creative and artistic interests through informal monthly dinners and excursions. Arts Scholars, selected through an application process in the spring, get to know and connect with each other while contributing to the development of MIT’s arts community.

List Foundation Fellowships in the Arts for Students of Color were created in 1992 “to encourage a broad range of artistic endeavor and to further cultural investigation, affirmation and understanding through the arts by supporting students of color in their exploration of traditional and non-traditional art forms.” The Fellowship awards up to $5,000 annually to two MIT students to support the year-long pursuit of a project in the performing, visual, or literary arts, including a mentorship program to work with established artists of color. The program is administered by Maureen Costello, Director of Special Programs, and the next deadline for applications is October 30. For call information, 253-8089.

Blow your horn

The OA, through its Arts Communication branch, is eager to help students and departments publicize their performances, exhibitions, readings and other arts events to the MIT and Greater Boston communities. A clearinghouse for information on MIT arts events and programs, Arts Communication, collects information through a group of MIT student and staff contacts known as ArtsNet.

The information is compiled and mailed to nearly 300 Boston-area media contacts for inclusion in event listings such as the Thursday Boston Globe Calendar, and to on-campus media such as The Tech. Arts Communication also provides text and images for the weekly Arts Page in Tech Talk, mails copies of the monthly Tech Talk arts calendar to individuals off-campus, and oversees the Arts Hotline (253-ARTS), the Arts at MIT web site, a bulletin board in Lobby 7, and the LED sign in Building 16. They’ll even help you write press releases about your events and provide you with copies of a press mailing list.

“We really want to increase awareness of MIT’s arts programs and of the Institute’s talented student artists,” said Haller. “We encourage students to let us know about their arts groups and activities -- we can help them get the world out and draw more people to their events.”

Lynn Heinemann is the administrative staff assistant for the Office of the Arts.