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Advisory council hopes to bridge arts, academics

Michael Rodio | Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Seniors Ryan Belock and Hal Melia are hoping to bridge the gap between the University’s artistic and academic departments with the creation of a new student-run advisory council, Arts@ND.

“There exists a communication and collaboration gap between departments, DPAC (DeBartolo Performing Arts Center), student groups and non-arts majors,” Belock said. “We are now brainstorming ways to fix that together. We’ve adopted a mission to ‘create, celebrate and collaborate.'”

Belock said he first imagined Arts@ND during his freshman year, when he realized the programming department at DPAC and the music, art, art history, design, and Film, Television & Theatre (FTT) departments were independently trying to increase attention to arts on campus.

Belock said he learned the University’s 2008 Strategic Plan for the Arts envisioned an Arts Advisory Council in support of the University’s “Decade of the Arts.” He found campus leaders, especially students, supported creating an advisory committee to serve academic and extra-curricular arts groups.

“I feel students need to be part of those conversations,” Belock said. “I wanted to get peers, professors and professionals on campus working these issues out together, not just in their isolated circles, but finding ways to proactively collaborate and create.”

At the start of the school year, Belock said he and Melia worked with student body president Pat McCormick to create a student-driven force for supporting arts on campus. McCormick advocated for enhancing campus arts in his campaign platform.

Belock said he and Melia hosted the first meeting of the Arts at Notre Dame Student Advisory Group in November to brainstorm how the organization could work. Small groups of professors, staff members and students developed potential initiatives, Belock said.

“The largest takeaway from the first meeting was that we have a lot of creative talent across many majors, not just arts majors, that can solve the most pressing issues for student activities arts groups, ensembles, classes and professional programming on campus,” he said. 

Belock said the meeting also helped introduce students from across the academic spectrum.

“This was the first time some FTT students met art, art history and design students,” he said. “It was also the first time some had been in the Regis Philbin Studio Theater [in DPAC].”

Belock said he and Melia hosted the second meeting of Arts@ND, titled “WE ‘ART’ ND,” in February. The meeting used the slogan “create, celebrate and collaborate.”

Belock said the group hosted the meeting in Riley Hall of Art and Design to set a standard that arts have several “bases” on campus that need to be fully integrated into thoughts and collaboration.

At the meeting, he said Director of Bands Ken Dye presented examples of collaborative work in the arts, including projects by rock bands OK Go and U2. Belock said students recommended opening a café in Riley Hall, improving the “Arts” section of the University website, creating a publication to cover campus arts and instituting a College of Fine Arts.

“We are narrowing down and voting on short-term projects to pursue this spring that will make a noticeable impact on the ‘aura of the arts’ at Notre Dame,” he said.

Belock said Arts@ND’s primary progress has been the opportunity to encourage conversation between students and faculty.

“They all share three things in common. They love Notre Dame, they love the arts, and they want to make them both better here,” he said.