Chronicle of Higher Ed: college campuses are center of the arts in American culture...

Chronicle of Higher Education

Arts Patrons for the 21st Century
In an era of uncertain support, colleges are engines of culture

by Lawrence Biemiller

In a story about declining funding of the arts around the nation, particularly in Michigan, Chronicle of Higher Education writer Lawrence Biemiller toured Michigan universities viewing first-hand their arts programs. During his stop at Wayne State University, he spoke with several faculty. Mary Anderson, assistant professor of theatre, said that four of the five best directors in Detroit are tied to Wayne State. "Universities here are absolutely essential to the survival of the arts." Tom Pyrzewski, who earned his MFA from the university and is its director of galleries, said his day job there allows him to make art at night and on weekends. Christopher Collins, professor of music and director of jazz studies, said “universities have become one of the primary venues for exploration." Meg Paul, Wayne State lecturer in ballet who is a former principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, said that members of many dance companies rely on campus residencies to supplement their incomes. New York's Complexions Contemporary Ballet, for instance, spends a few weeks at Wayne State every summer, Paul said, "and now that they've got work in the summer, they've got space—they use that time to create." The chair of Wayne State's music department, John Vander Weg, said he pays area musicians a total of about $140,000 annually to serve as part-time instructors and funnels $20,000 or so to guest artists. Plus, "we say the College of Fine, Performing, and Communication Arts brings about a half-million people into halls for various events that we're providing at very low cost or free."