Academics & Research

$1.5 million goes to UH art programs, CLASS

“Winged Victory” by American Stephen De Staebler | Clara Kang/The Daily Cougar

“Winged Victory” by American Stephen De Staebler | Clara Kang/The Daily Cougar

Several University of Houston performance halls and arts programs will benefit from a $1.51 million Houston Endowment grant to the UH Arts Initiative.

“I think the award itself is really a recognition of the importance of the arts in educational institutions on the part of the Houston Endowment,” said John Roberts, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

“We are really grateful that they see the value in what we do here and that they were willing to support it, especially at this level. It’s a great thing for us.”

This is one of the largest Houston Endowment grants UH has received, and it will be a contributing factor in many renovations as well as the development of a new arts leadership program.

“Part of the grant will benefit infrastructure, especially the Moores Opera House, the Dudley Recital Hall, places like that – performing venues, as well as classroom spaces for students,” Roberts said.

According to a UH press release, $545,000 will go toward these renovations and the creation of a new student exhibition space in the Fine Arts Building.

“The renovations are going to be pretty generic in the sense that there are not going to be any major changes to the facilities themselves. By generic, I would point to the fact that one of the major renovations in the Moores Opera House will involve replacing the stage curtains and screens,” Roberts said.

“There will also be substantial upgrades of sound, lighting and other electrical systems that are at or near their shelf life.  The recital halls will pretty much get face-lifts, including new seating, lighting and other improvements to enhance their appearance and usefulness.”

The University will contribute $715,000 to public programs like the Houston Shakespeare Festival and the Texas Music Festival, $100,000 of those funds will be for developing new projects.

“It’s really important for us and provides much needed support, especially in making sure they can do some of the activities they have not been able to do in the past,” Roberts said.

“Plus, it gives us a staple form of support. Normally, we go out and raise money to make these things happen every year, but now we have a source of money that we know we can build on.”

These new projects will be art-centered and mostly from UH faculty.

“We will essentially award it as small grants to artists, especially faculty artists, to start new projects that they have an idea they want to facilitate,” Roberts said.

“They will write a proposal for those funds, and we will be able to hopefully support those ideas and get some new projects going that way.”

The final $250,000 will help finalize plans to create the UH Center for Arts Leadership, which should have classes open for the fall 2013 semester.

“We will be able to begin (the arts leadership master’s degree program) next fall with support from this grant. Arts leadership is a real important concern for a lot of people in the field of art generally and certainly in Houston, which is a big arts community” Roberts said.

“Preparing people adequately to lead these programs – whether museums or theatres, whatever the arts venue might be – into the future will be very important.”

Houston Endowment is a foundation that supports artistic and cultural activity and awareness within the city.

According to Houston Endowment President Ann Stern, UH’s proposal for the grant was notable for the clear strategy developed by UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator and Roberts.

“We believe the UH Arts Initiative capitalizes on the creative assets of the University and also on its position as a leading academic institution,” Stern said.

“This comprehensive approach will significantly expand the impact of the university’s arts programs both on- and off-campus. The benefits to both UH students and the larger community, along with the commitment to the project from UH’s leadership, were significant factors in Houston Endowment’s grant to the project.”

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