Arts liason hopes to guide UH to flagship

UH Arts Initiative hopes to attract students and Houston artists with the promotion of Karen Farber to the position of special assistant to the provost and community arts liaison.

Farber was promoted May 1 to extend the University’s goal of flagship status to enhancement of the arts.

The initiative is scheduled for completion this November and will be implemented during the next five years.

‘President Khator has given us the mandate to build and enhance on the strongest components of UH and we couldn’t be more excited about it,’ Farber said. ‘The fact that she put the arts as one of the university’s strengths within the context on university excellence really takes us leaps and bounds.’

Provost John Antel said Farber will implement UH Arts Initiative through collaboration on issues regarding UH arts such as strategic planning, curriculum, facilities and community outreach.

‘Karen is a proven leader in the Houston arts community. In a short time, she has elevated the visibility of a new and unique arts center through a host of public performances and exhibitions,’ Antel said in an e-mail. ‘She has been instrumental in partnering the university with both local and national arts organizations.’

Farber will continue to serve as director of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center. She said her promotion is an addition and natural advancement from what she has accomplished at and through the Mitchell Center.

‘The opportunity to be here at UH was really an opportunity to work across the arts,’ Farber said. ‘I had dreamed for many years of starting an experimental theatre component of an art museum.’

‘Through the Mitchell Center, I was able to be associated with the art museum. In addition, I get to work with students in training to be professional artists and the chance to really shape how pre-professional artists think about their careers is a huge bonus.’

Amid collaborative projects with Antel, Farber said substance of the arts program is quite important.

‘Collaborative artistic projects can bring so much to the table. We’re getting everyone across the arts corridor and across the University,’ Farber said. ‘These projects can really exhibit how artists function in the world and that they are working with the rest of the world with other disciplines.’

UH Arts Initiative plans to become a piece of the Mitchell Center, focusing on enhancement of the center’s programs.

‘Right now, we have strong programs in the performing, visual and literary arts. UH has one of the greatest creative writing programs in the country, and we have a magnificent contemporary art museum on campus,’ Farber said. ‘It should be a destination to anyone who comes to Houston, but a lot of people don’t know what’s going on over here.

‘With the special assistant position I’ll be facilitating an identity and working with other departments on campus to state what our goals are and how the arts infuse the rest of the campus and the rest of the city.’

Farber said her community liaison position will be a different component from the special assistant position.

With Farber’s background in arts administration, Antel said he has no doubt that Farber will benefit the future of arts at UH.

Antel believes that alongside his collaboration with Farber and other members of the University community, the exchange of ideas will be an effective strategy for UH Art Initiative.

‘Karen, myself, and others will engage in extensive dialogues regarding the continued growth of UH’s art programs,’ Antel said. ‘Karen is gifted at working alongside creative spirits and developing successful projects. I look forward to the opportunity to work with her.’

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