Arts and the City year puts spotlight on cultural activities at Penn

September 16, 2009

Arts and the City year puts spotlight on cultural activities

Anandi Malik

Daily Pennsylvanian

September 16, 2009

For the class of 2013, reading was not part of this year's Penn Reading Project. In a departure from previous years, the incoming freshmen were assigned a visual text.

This change was a part of the Arts & the City theme year launched by the Provost's Office. The theme centers around art and culture - both on Penn's campus and in Philadelphia - and involves a variety of organizations, ranging from the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to student groups such as the Penn Art Club and the Center for Public Health Initiatives.

This diversity is intended to "spotlight the wide range of arts and culture activities on campus and in the city," Provost Vincent Price wrote in an e-mail. "We want to encourage more engagement with arts and culture and bring together different schools and disciplines around arts and culture events," he added.

Penn arts-based organizations have declared their support and will be hosting a plethora of events. The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, for example, will present both global and local artists and companies, the highlight of which will be Shakespeare's Globe Theater from London in October.

The Penn Museum is also involved, as are other institutions such as the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Arthur Ross Gallery in the Fisher Fine Arts Library.

"Arts & the City reaffirms the essential role of arts and culture on campus and in city life," ICA director Claudia Gould said.

The student-focused initiatives will include an Arts Crawl, during which all arts and culture institutions on campus will open their doors, either for free or with heavy discounts.

An Arts & the City "passport" will also allow students to keep track of the arts and culture events they attend this year. A range of prizes will then be awarded at the end of the year - one will go to the student who has attended the most events.

Other initiatives include the appointing of a designated Arts Ambassador in each of the college houses, the launch of an arts-related blog and the introduction of an arts grant that will be available to students, faculty and staff.

College senior, Ingrid Lindquist, president of the Penn Art Club and an Arts Ambassador, said she is "particularly excited about November's Arts Crawl - to see how everybody can be showcased at once."

Penn has also teamed up with organizations such as the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Campus Philly, the Philadelphia Theatre Company, Wilma Theater and Arden Theatre to offer Penn students, faculty and staff discounts.

David Fox, director of academic initiatives for the Provost's Office, emphasized the two-pronged goal of the year's theme, saying that it aims to "get people from Philadelphia to come to Penn to see art," as well as "making students aware of the presence of the arts on campus and of the larger picture of the arts in Philadelphia."

Platt Student Performing Arts House Director Ty Furman agreed. He said the theme will "continue to build bridges between the Penn community and the Philadelphia cultural community."