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HIGHER EDUCATION AND THE PERFORMING ARTS

The American Assembly respectfully requests a grant of ------ from the----- in support of
a project on higher education and the performing arts.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
In 1997, The American Assembly, through its project on The Arts and the !ublic
!urpose," became a dri#ing and influential force in the public discourse about national arts
policy. This Assembly e$amined the %ays in %hich the arts meet the nation&s most profound
needs and purposes, %hile enriching the li#es of all Americans. The Arts and the !ublic
!urpose" also identified an agenda for future cultural policy discussions. The Assembly&s
established con#ening po%ers and meeting format %ere used to full ad#antage in follo%-on
acti#ities that included meetings, publications, funded research, and interaction %ith specialists,
the press, and arts leaders.
Throughout these proceedings from 1997 through the present, a consistent refrain has
been that the arts are not participating as fully as they can, nor are they capitali'ing or forming
(ey, strategic alliances %ith complementary institutions, such as colleges and uni#ersities. The
American Assembly project %ill set an agenda for the arts and these alliances.
The American Assembly %ill address these dynamic emerging partnerships by turning its
attention and its leadership team to a project on )igher *ducation and the !erforming Arts." In
+arch ,--. The Assembly %ill bring leading e$perts together for a t%o-and-a-half-day meeting.
In preparation for this meeting, The Assembly %ill dra% on the on-going %or(, research, and
data de#eloped by the /ni#ersity of Te$as, Austen and %ill commission additional bac(ground
material for the participants. At the conclusion of the meetings, The Assembly %ill release a
publication that %ill ad#ance public discussion by informing sta(eholders and policy ma(ers of
the research and the participants0 findings and recommendations.
The leadership team guiding this project includes Alberta Arthurs, former director of Arts
and )umanities at the 1oc(efeller 2oundation and principal, A3A )oldings4 2ran( )odsoll,
former chairman, 5ational *ndo%ment for the Arts and principal, )odsoll and Associates4 and
6andra 7ibson, president, Association of !erforming Arts !resenters. 8ee 3ollinger, president,
9olumbia /ni#ersity and 5ancy 9antor, chancellor, /ni#ersity of Illinois, /rbana-9hampaign
ha#e agreed to ser#e as chairs of this national initiati#e.
A distinguished steering committee, consisting of national e$perts from the arts,
academia, and the arts presenting %orld ha#e been identified and recruited to help guide this
project. A list of committee members and their affiliates are appended.
THE QUESTION
The relationship of colleges and uni#ersities to the performing arts has e#ol#ed
significantly o#er the past se#eral years and these relationships are benefiting, or ha#e benefited,
in e$traordinary and highly positi#e %ays the institutions of higher education, artists, the
performing arts, and arts institutions. Together higher education and the performing arts ha#e an
opportunity and a role in nurturing a #ital and thri#ing modern culture. :hile some high
creati#ity in the performing arts can e$ist independently of any particular outside support and
in#ol#ement, most creati#ity requires a comple$ community of fello% artists, patrons,
supporters, and interested audiences to e$ist. A critical question for the performing arts is %ho or
%hich institutions %ill assume a sense of responsibility for their health and #itality.
+ost artists and performing arts institutions require a conte$t, a community of people and
institutions to stimulate fully their creati#e juices, and that a mar(et is not, by itself, a sufficient
conte$t for this goal. The role of mar(ets in the de#elopment of culture is a complicated and,
sometimes, contentious issue. 1egardless, the performing arts %ould be impo#erished if they
%ere left to fend for themsel#es in a free mar(et consumerist economy. The question remains,
%ho, or %hich institutions outside of the usual free mar(et, can, and %ill, assume a sense of
responsibility for the health and #itality of the performing arts; This American Assembly
initiati#e %ill not only e$amine the role that colleges and uni#ersities play as landlords and
impresarios, filling auditoria and halls for performances4 %hile important, nurturing this art form
is far more in#ol#ed. Assembly project co-chair 8ee 3ollinger has remar(ed<
If one is trying to stretch the aesthetic a%areness of your audiences, and
potential audiences, and to challenge their tacit assumptions about %hat
is good and bad, interesting and dull, then you are performing a highly
important and difficult role of mediating bet%een different %orlds of
understanding and e$perience- you are, in a %ord, an educator.
2or more than se#enty years, colleges and uni#ersities ha#e enlisted among their faculties
in the arts practicing artists. A more recent de#elopment in#ol#es the greater integration of
artistic performances into the academic life of the uni#ersity. !erformances themsel#es become
more than a single e#ent and become part of a larger %hole that may consist of academic courses
or theme seminars on related matters such as history or political issues suggested by the piece, or
a host of other possibilities. /ni#ersities ha#e more recently ta(en on the role of a broader
engagement by commissioning ne% %or(s of arts and pro#iding safe harbors for their creators
and creations. In this %ay, uni#ersities ha#e become important patrons of the arts. This is all
part of a broader trend. The American Assembly project %ill e$amine this trend, and %hat has
succeeded, %hat has failed, %hy and %hat can be learned so successful interaction bet%een
higher education and the performing arts can better thri#e in the future.
6pecial efforts are no% under%ay to forge ongoing, multi-year relationships %ith
uni#ersities and the #enues that can be pro#ided by performing arts institutions. These
relationships" offer unspecific, intangible, but #ery real opportunities for mutual influence o#er
time. As %ith any relationship, the artist, the %or( of art, the institution %ill ha#e effects on the
uni#ersities =on %hat is taught, on ho% it is taught, on %hat research is done, and so on> and
uni#ersities %ill affect the creati#e process that leads to the %or(s of art or the performances
themsel#es. :hether these are on balance reciprocal effects remains to be seen. The American
Assembly initiati#e %ill e$plore broadly those effect and the e#olution of deepening relations
bet%een uni#ersities and contemporary performing arts
The idea behind The American Assembly initiati#e is that a uni#ersity has a sense of
being responsible for helping maintain and enhance the modern cultural community. The
underlying thought here is not to do only %hat is best for the uni#ersities and for the uni#ersities&
interests, important as they are, but rather also to do %hat is best for the continued #itality of the
arts. The American Assembly %ill e$amine the templates that e$ist so that other colleges and
uni#ersities across the country may build on those models, indi#idually and, better yet,
collecti#ely. /ni#ersities should begin to thin( seriously about %hat they can do to help sustain
the arts on a national scale. The American Assembly project %ill pro#ide an agenda for this
e$amination.
There is a natural (inship, a natural alliance, bet%een uni#ersities and the performing
arts. If anyone should understand the comple$ and idiosyncratic conditions essential to
creati#ity, or if anyone should understand the simple fact about creati#ity, that there must be an
e$traordinary tolerance for failure, it should be those %ho inhabit our institutions of higher
education. /ni#ersities and the performing arts share a perspecti#e on life and a concern %ith
enhancing this nation&s a%areness, this nation&s consciousness of %hat is un(no%n, the nation&s
massi#e ignorance of the mysteries of life. 3ecoming more comfortable %ith that reality is a
noble and important social role. 6o to is a meaningful role of the arts. As !resident 3ollinger
has eloquently stated, the arts e$press the other%ise ine$pressible--they are our plea to
recogni'e the mystery of life, ho% much of life remains incomprehensible. /ni#ersities and the
performing arts are joint partners in an endea#or fe% others in our society are committed to
pursue.
BACKGROUND
In 1997 The American Assembly became one of the influences dri#ing national arts
policy discussions %ith a project and follo%-on acti#ities entitled The Arts and the !ublic
!urpose." The impact of this project %as unprecedented in The Assembly&s fifty-year history.
!rompted by national interest, The Assembly initiated a second project that focused on the
interconnectedness of the not-for-profit and the for-profit parts of the arts sector. The #ie%s of
the arts leaders %ho met on the :est and on the *ast 9oasts %ere synthesi'ed in a report entitled
?eals and Ideals< 2or-!rofit and 5ot-2or-!rofit Arts 9onnections." 8ast 2ebruary, The
Assembly held a four-day meeting as the culmination of a yearlong e$amination of the role and
impact of intellectual property and technology on the arts. Its report Art, Technology and
Intellectual !roperty" has been %idely read and referenced. The Assembly used its unique
con#ening po%ers and its meeting format to shepherd these important projects, maintaining a
balance of intellectual integrity not often e$perienced in the e$amination of cultural policy. The
complementary leadership of Alberta Arthurs and 2ran( )odsoll, no% joined by 6andra 7ibson
and co-chairs 8ee 3ollinger and @@@@@ %ill pro#ide the dri#e and commitment that (ept these
proceeding initiati#es at the forefront of a national dialogue.
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
This %ill be the first national effort by a nonpartisan public policy institution to address
role of higher education and the performing arts. The national meeting %ill ta(e place on +arch
11-1A, ,--. at Arden )ouse, %hich is ideally suited for the (ind of interaction, both formal and
informal, among participants necessary to meet The Assembly&s goals. This meeting of si$ty
participants %ill represent a broad, di#erse, and influential audience reflecting the combined
thin(ing and e$perience of the arts constituencies, artists, representati#es of performing arts
institutions, and the nation&s foremost authorities on the issues from academia. 3uilding on the
%or( of se#eral organi'ations that ha#e focused on collateral issues, and informed by
commissioned bac(ground material, the national Assembly %ill bring together both sta(eholders
and policy ma(ers for t%o and a half days to underta(e a thorough e$amination of the (ey public
policy issues and practices related to the performing arts, and colleges and uni#ersities in
America. The issues to be e$amined fall under the follo%ing headings<
THE AMERICAN ASSEMBLY AND THE ARTS
The American Assembly %as founded in 19B- by ?%ight ?. *isenho%er %hen he %as
president of 9olumbia /ni#ersity. It remains his most prominent legacy as an educator, and it
operates under his broad mandate, Cto illuminate issues of national policy.C The Assembly0s
major objecti#es ha#e been to focus attention and stimulate discussion on a range of important
/.6. policy issues, both domestic and international4 to inform go#ernment officials, community
and ci#ic leadership, and the general public by pro#iding useful nonpartisan bac(ground
material and the range of policy options in a gi#en issue4 to facilitate increased communication
among decision ma(ers from the public and pri#ate sectors4 and to raise the quality of public
policy discourse.
D#er the past fifty-three years, The American Assembly has addressed many issues
bearing on /.6. policy. +ore than one hundred Assemblies ha#e been held at Arden )ouse in
)arriman, 5e% Eor(, and other leading conference centers %here thousands of public opinion
leaders ha#e gathered from throughout the country and the %orld, dra%n from a %ide spectrum
of social, political, economic, professional, and #ocational interests. They tend to be leaders in
their respecti#e fields or ha#e been identified as future leaders. In addition, regional Assemblies
held by hundreds of educational institutions in the /nited 6tates and abroad, using the materials
prepared for the Assembly meetings, further promote understanding and thought about important
issues of /.6. policy.
Assembly publications e$tend their influence and impact far beyond indi#idual Assembly
participants. They are regularly requested by college and high school teachers and libraries
throughout the country and are distributed gratis. They continue to be a#ailable and in demand
years after their original publication. The American Assembly boo( series, no% published by
:.:. 5orton F 9ompany, has inspired generations of scholars and citi'ens interested in public
policy topics. Assembly boo(s are regularly adopted as course reading in colleges and
uni#ersities here and abroad. Indi#idual chapters ha#e garnered distinguished international
a%ards.
The /.6. and international media ha#e recogni'ed the importance of The American
Assembly process in de#eloping coherent policy alternati#es, and Assembly publications are
regularly reported on throughout the nation and abroad. In addition, the 9-6!A5 tele#ision
net%or( has broadcast entire Assembly programs to its audiences, and Arden )ouse programs
ha#e been filmed for !36 broadcast and the de#elopment of educational #ideo cassettes.
The American Assembly has a distinguished history of e$amining issues of arts and
culture<
In 19G,, it sponsored the project C9ultural Affairs and 2oreign 1elations.C The first
edition of the bac(ground #olume %as %idely circulated, and a thorough re#ision and
e$pansion of it %as published si$ years later to meet a continuing need.
In 197., The Assembly sponsored CDn /nderstanding Art +useums,C %hich led to an
international Assembly at ?itchley !ar( in *ngland the follo%ing year. The
bac(ground #olume, commissioned by The Assembly, has been reprinted three times
in order to meet the sustained interest.
The Assembly0s 1977 project, entitled CThe !erforming Arts and American 6ociety,C
had four subsequent regional Assemblies encompassing the 6outh, mid-America, the
7reat 8a(es region, and the 5ortheast. This bac(ground #olume has also been
reprinted by The Assembly to meet continuing interest.
The 19H. Assembly-sponsored CThe Arts and !ublic !olicy in the /nited 6tatesC
project also resulted in a reprint of its boo(.
In 199-, The Assembly sponsored a series of small meetings in communities around
the country, %hich %ere then used to inform an Arden )ouse Assembly focused on
go#ernment funding and the arts, and led to the publication of a boo(, Public Money
and the Muse, %hich continues to be a standard te$t in arts study today.
The Assembly0s most recent projects The Arts and the !ublic !urpose" in 1997 and
?eals and Ideals" in 199H ha#e been described in this proposal.
+ost recently In 2ebruary,--,, The Assembly sponsored Art, Technology, and
Intellectual !roperty," %hich is also described in this proposal.
The American Assembly0s comparati#e ad#antage lies in its nonpartisan structure and in
its e$perience in con#ening and framing issues in %ays that allo% ideas and solutions to
emerge. The Assembly&s technique is an appropriate format for the C)igher *ducation
and the !erforming ArtsC national meeting and %ill identify promising policy ideas and,
help identify an agenda. This leadership %ill identify research material that %ill analy'e
challenges that confront the performing arts during the uncertain economic times. These
%ill be sent to the participants in ad#ance of the national meeting in +arch.
Appro$imately si$ty participants %ill be chosen by The American Assembly, %ith
the ad#ice of the steering committee. 6election %ill be based on a comple$ matri$ that
considers points of #ie%, gender, ethnic, and geographic di#ersity. The Assembly %ill
recruit leaders from each professional category %ho ha#e significant e$pertise in their
particular fields as %ell as broad e$perience and understanding of the major cultural
issues facing society in general. The group %ill include artists4 leaders from /.6. cultural
institutions4 leaders of cultural institutions4 philanthropic staff4 scholars4 and emerging
leaders.
At the national meeting the participants %ill be di#ided into three discussion
groups, %hich remain intact throughout the Assembly. *ach group %ill ha#e a discussion
leader and rapporteur %hose responsibilities are, respecti#ely, to focus the group on a
discussion agenda prepared by the co-directors, and to record the main points of
agreement and disagreement in four three-hour intensi#e discussion sessions. Throughout
the meeting, the co-directors %ill monitor the sessions and de#elop an outline for a draft
report of the group0s findings and policy recommendations. The co-directors, the
discussion leaders, and rapporteurs %ill prepare a draft report that %ill be presented to the
participants for their re#ie%, amendment, and appro#al at a final plenary session. In
addition, leaders from acedemia, artists, and noted authorities %ill address the group
during the course of the Assembly.
The final report %ill be printed soon after the national Assembly and distributed to
1-,--- leaders in the public and pri#ate sector, institutions, and interested citi'ens.
?ra%ing on the e$perience and e$pertise and the relationships of members of the steering
committee, the Assembly e$pects to use technology and the Internet to complement
distribution in inno#ati#e %ays.