Art+Science at UC: A Natural Trend

22 Jul

For the past three and half years, UCIRA has nurtured the ‘Integrative Methodologies’ Art+Science initiative, utilizing our grants program to establish working relationships between UC researchers and practitioners who integrate art and science methodologies in a broad array of projects and programs.  

 

During spring 2013, UCIRA hosted the first in a series of art+science think tanks in partnership with UC Riverside’s Culver Center for the Arts to forge connections between arts and science practitioners within the context of the research university. The gathering was organized in conjunction with the exhibition “Free Enterprise: The Art of Citizen Space Exploration”, curated by UCIRA CoDirector Marko Peljhan and Tyler Stallings, Director of UC Riverside’s Culver Center.

 

Over three days, 23 participants each presented their overview of science-art-engineering and design (SAED) activities, shared best practices, identified potential themes and topics— “Big Questions” that needed to be tackled, and initiated potential network opportunities. In addition, they brainstormed future funding sources for a UC-centered SAED initiative, from the National Science INSPIRE (Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education) grants as well as foundation and industry/research partnerships. The list of attendees, both across and beyond the UC system, included:

 

Babette Allina, Rhode Island School of Design

Nancy E. Abrams, The New Universe + the Human Future, UCSC

Sheldon Brown, Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, UCSD

Yvonne Clearwater, New Media Innovation, NASA Ames Research Center

Pablo Colapinto, Media Arts + Technology Systemics and Allosphere, UCSB

Amanda McDonald Crowley, Curator/Director, Studio 1A, New York

David Familian, Director of Exhibitions, Beall Center for Art + Technology, UCI

Liz Losh, Art + Techno-lit Program, Sixth College, UCSD

Guna Nadarajan, Dean, School of Art and Design, U of Michigan

Michael Neff, Technocultural Studies, UCD

Jennifer Parker, Digital Arts Open Lab, UCSC

Marko Peljhan, CoDirector, UC Institute for Research in the Arts, Media Arts + Technology

Eric Paulos, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UCB

Yadegari Shahrokh, Center for Research in Computing and the Arts, UCSD

Tyler Stallings, Director, Culver Center for the Arts, UCR

Matthew Turk, Media Arts and Technology / Computer Science + Engineering, UCSB

Victoria Vesna, Design Media Arts/Art/Sci Center, UCLA

Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) Expressive Intelligence Studio, UCSC

John Weber, Director, Institute for Arts and Sciences, UCSC

Kathleen Wong, Principal Publications Coordinator, UC Natural Reserve System, UC Office of the President

Kim Yasuda, CoDirector, UC Institute for Research in the Arts, UCSB

 

Kathleen Wong, Principal Publications Coordinator for the UC Natural Reserve System, offers some thoughts on the think tank.

 

Art+Science at UC: A Natural Trend

by Kathleen M. Wong

 

From the enthusiasm about STEAM lately, you might think the Industrial Revolution was starting all over again. But in this case, STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics—a movement to blend these disciplines to spark creative advances across all of these fields. The “STEAM revolution” promoting the inclusion of the arts in science research is gaining momentum across the country, and UC is leading the way.

 

Participants representing the nine general UC campuses gave presentations about interdisciplinary arts and science efforts across the UC system. Each campus is evolving its own flavors of STEAM initiatives. Examples include UCSC’s OpenLab, which allows people from any discipline to share equipment and do hands-on work together; UCLA’s Art | Sci Center + Lab, which encourages the creation of a “third culture” bridging the arts and sciences, and UCSD’s Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination will tap scientists, artists, and scholars to solve major human problems.

 

One major hurdle for STEAM initiatives is to draw more people—especially scientists—to participate. Think tank participants agreed that the fruits of art+sci collaborations must provide professional recognition. Further, artists and scientists aren’t measured by the same yardstick. Artists receive recognition for exhibiting their work in shows or performances. Scientists are judged by the peer-reviewed papers they publish. Neither can afford to spend much effort on work not valued by their peers. These cultural differences may account for the wall of silence at least one artist ran into trying to find scientists to work with.

 

Part of that indifference might be ascribed to not knowing what art+science can offer. Scientists are familiar with the idea of an artist helping to visualize new species or concepts. They may not appreciate how working with an artist can help them tackle problems from new perspectives, and expand the boundaries of human knowledge. Those, of course, are the same reasons many people pursue science as a career.

 

One unit of UC is ideally positioned to bring scientists and artists together. The UC Natural Reserve System is a network of protected wildland areas across California that serve as outdoor laboratories, studios and classrooms. Using a reserve involves staying at a remote and beautiful place over weeks or months, with other reserve users their primary society. Inevitably, people get to know one another. They spark friendships while relaxing over a campfire, taking a morning hike, or cooking dinner in a communal reserve kitchen. Reserve visitors learn what everyone else is working on, whether modeling climate change, writing poetry, studying chipmunk ranges, or tracing ancient earthquake faults. All of these topics and more could profit from creative thinking and innovation from new directions.

 

Since its inception in 1965, the NRS has welcomed biologists and writers, painters and geologists, dancers and astronomers. But past outreach efforts have been aimed more to scientists than artists.

 

The NRS is now joining with UCIRA to expand arts opportunities at reserves, offering to provide guidance in designing and developing artist-in-residency programs at reserves, to provide access to artists as well as awareness of the NRS by engaging arts research communities across UC. These efforts should encourage more citizens of the art world and residents of planet science to work together as equal partners in the future.

 

Kathleen M. Wong is Principal Publications Coordinator for the UC Natural Reserve System.

 

 

NRS rock art 1

Rock art panels at NRS reserves are the precursors of tomorrow’s art and science collaborations. Image credit: Kathleen M. Wong

NRS rock art 2

Image credit: Michael Kisgen

 

 

Why art at NRS reserves?

22 Jul

July 22, 2014

By Faerthen Felix, Assistant Manager, Sagehen Creek Field Station

Image credit: Faerthen Felix

Located on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, in a bowl lined with conifer forests and fens, Sagehen Creek Field Station is a research area owned by the U.S. Forest Service and administered by UC Berkeley. It’s one of 39 reserves in the UC Natural Reserve System, a network of wildland areas across California encompassing more than 756,000 acres. In addition to hosting science research ranging from native fish populations to forest health, and offering education at all ages, Sagehen explicitly encourages the arts.

The purpose of the art program at Sagehen is to inspire reflection, connection, and new insight into the ecosystem of which we are a part. This insight can and should inform scientific inquiry into, and management of, this ecosystem.

The process of forming a scientific (or any other kind of) question is essentially an artistic one. People seldom, if ever, come up with their research question via the scientific method; science is a criterion of truth and a test of knowledge, not necessarily its originator. Science has been so successful at this that the term “knowledge” is often assumed to mean only scientific fact, leading to conflicts with other cultural knowledge like religion, ethics, politics, and even economics.

Art—whether literary, visual, musical, performance, or other form—is, at its core, the discovery process whereby we connect apparently unrelated elements to create new knowledge of any flavor. This knowledge can then be explored and tested via the scientific method, or brought to cultural attention through the application of pattern, beauty, or controversy.

As environmental artist Helen Harrison once told me, “It becomes art when it starts to reverberate in your mind.”

Image credit: Faerthen Felix

The history of Sagehen is peppered with this kind of occasional alchemy. For example, graduate students frequently, even typically, come to Sagehen with a thesis question that changes dramatically as they see things on the ground. One can only work with the raw material already in one’s head, and just being in the field allows the possibility of seeing something unconceived, creating new knowledge to be tested. One student discovered that slave-making ants parasitize different species here than anywhere else. Another found that traditional timing of grazing severely impacts native bees. Their willingness to notice differences and open their eyes to new patterns put them on a path that led from art to science.

In another example where connections between formerly unrelated elements created knowledge leading to action, researchers living at Sagehen in the 1950’s randomly happened upon large rainbow trout spawning in tiny ephemeral rivulets. This serendipitous discovery ultimately changed Forest Service management policy for these formerly devalued, temporary watercourses. Again, the journey from art, to science, to policy.

Our Sagehen Forest Project is another prime example.

This project will soon begin restructuring the Sagehen Basin forest for greater resiliency against climate change and wildfire, more natural structure, and friendlier wildlife habitat. I would argue that the collaborative, two-year process of designing the project was essentially about writing a community narrative. It followed a trajectory that moved from science, to art, to policy.

Planning the project began with a meeting of all the stakeholders we could think to invite: loggers, environmentalists, wildlife biologists, NGOs, agencies, and other interested parties. The first meeting essentially consisted of the Forest Service and the UC Berkeley saying, “The science suggests our forest is failing, and we’d like you to help us figure out what to do about it,” to which everyone else replied, “Okay, show us what you are thinking and we’ll tell you how we feel about it.”

Repeat.

Image credit: Faerthen Felix

It was such a vast departure from management precedent to begin like this—without preconceived notions, without a strategy, without preferred alternatives, starting with just a problem in which everyone felt invested—that no one could initially wrap their head around it. We discussed the science; we walked in the woods; we looked deeply at the forest; we marked trees for removal; we cordoned off animal habitat; we cut and burned test plots.

A year and a half later, the team had hammered out a radically new prescription and proposed action for the Forest Service to codify and execute. No one got everything they wanted, but everyone got something they could live with. We would remove lots of smaller trees from roughly 30% of the basin, in patchy, topographically driven patterns.

Then at the eleventh hour, the day before the final meeting, an endangered northern goshawk moved its nest out of the area marked for its protected habitat and into an area slated for forest restructuring.

This was the moment when environmental groups could have vetoed the entire project. In the meeting, we addressed the bird’s movements. Everyone tensely turned to the environmentalists’ representative, who thought for a moment before saying, “What we are trying to do will make things better for those birds. I can’t see stopping this project because of that bird.”

Image credit: Faerthen Felix

We let out a breath of relief, carved the nest site out of the map, and agreed to wait until nesting season was over before working in the vicinity. Remarkably, the process moved forward.

The Forest Service received three letters of support during the public comment period: one from UC Berkeley’s Sagehen Creek Field Station, one from Sierra Pacific Industries (the loggers), and one from Sierra Forest Legacy (the environmentalists).

This kind of agreement among these very different stakeholders is unprecedented. Such folks don’t usually agree, much less voice support for the same forest project.

It would have been helpful in all these cases to have a physical artwork to mold and share the narrative, to provide a doorway to participation and ownership by the community of the new truths…and the subsequent science and policy emerging from them.

We are now working toward the installation of such an approachable physical artwork at Sagehen, the Invisible Barn. Conceived by designers stpmj, the barn consists of a small building wrapped in reflective film. The building blends into the environment and enables visitors to view themselves standing in the midst of the forest. The structure encourages contemplation of the meaning and presence of people in nature, without telling them explicitly what to think or how to feel.

Image credit: Faerthen Felix

Invisible Barn is a departure from the idea of imposing preconceived, top-down form on a community narrative. It’s more abstract.

Invisible Barn builds on the techniques of the Aldo Leopold Land Ethic Leadership (LEL) workshops held here at Sagehen a few years back. LEL teaches participants to “Observe, Participate, Reflect,” which provides “a framework to help you facilitate values-based discussions in a new and open way, allowing you to come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of your own views as well as those that differ.” There is no end goal except to start a conversation around a subject and see what commonalities emerge to guide future action.

Given the almost universal reduction in natural history emphasis, collections, and field time within university science programs in favor of lab work, art is naturally going to play a far larger role in discovering and exploring future scientific questions, and will create linkages between and within communities to effect policy change as a result of this science. Somebody has to be out there observing the world as it is and reporting its meaning back to us.

Image credit: Faerthen Felix

The point of this lengthy manifesto is that the public doesn’t seem to understand what art has to do with our research program, or why art is important beyond its aesthetic value.

We have heard this directly from an agency partner, and from many confused visitors who, perhaps understandably, can’t wrap their heads around Force Majeur, the 50-year art project by Helen and Newton Harrison that explores enhancements to the water carrying capacity of the soil in this watershed and in the other mountains of the world.

At least the Sagehen art program is already stimulating questions.

Addressing this confusion would be very helpful to our community, to Sagehen, and to the UC Natural Reserve System in general.

Maybe it would be a good idea to talk to other groups about this issue and ways to address it? Maybe we need more partners? Maybe we need a larger effort in the form of a workshop of some kind? Maybe there are tools out there already that we are missing? Maybe we need to incorporate this priority of communicating the value and purpose of art in science and at reserves into artist-in-residence criteria? This would be at least as useful as any actual artwork produced.

We’ve had some interesting feedback and would like to continue the conversation about how to move forward from here. We hope you will weigh in on this conversation with your ideas.

Faerthen Felix, ffelix@berkeley.edu.

 

Call for Proposals: UCIRA SUMMER 2014 ARTIST RESIDENCIES IN THE UC NATURAL RESERVE SYSTEM

2 Jun

 

 

Call for Proposals

UCIRA Artist Summer Residencies will provide up to $1500 as a travel and research stipend for UC faculty, students and/or staff working independently or collaboratively in all art forms to develop their work within the UC Natural Reserve System.

Deadline
Online applications must be completed by June 15, 2014

How to Apply
*Applications are only accepted only through our online system, SlideRoom: https://ucira.slideroom.com/#/login)*

Applications must include (all of the below requirements are available on the SlideRoom website):
- a summary sheet that names the reserve where you are interested in working and the dates you’d like to stay
- a narrative description of your proposed project or activity (one page maximum)
- up to five work samples

Since 2007, the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA) has developed experimental residency initiatives that offer opportunities for arts research to take place at sites within the UC Natural Reserve System (UC NRS). The 39 reserves of the UC NRS make examples of most of California’s diverse ecosystems available for research, education, and public service. The reserves are a rich source for exploration by artists. Staying at a reserve will immerse artists in the natural world, allow them to meet and mingle with scientists conducting field research, and develop work that moves beyond traditional concepts of art and science.

In partnership with the UC NRS, UCIRA is providing funding for up to five summer art residencies for a pilot residency program to take place between June and September 2014. Proposals will be selected based on the quality and suitability of arts research proposed at a particular reserve site. Selected artists will be provided with a travel and research stipend of up to $1500 to cover fees for reserve accommodations and travel to and from the site. Stipends do not include a per diem. Artists must remain in residence for a minimum of five days and up to one month. Artists may apply independently or as an organized group/collective who work together as an integral part of their practice.

Artists-in-residence are encouraged to work with the reserve manager and scientists using the site to develop opportunities for exploratory research that sensitively engage these environments in new ways. Working within the unique natural conditions available at each reserve, artists may choose to conduct independent projects or propose collaborative work that respects and/or effectively intersects with research taking place at the site. For example, proposed projects could visualize/animate scientific data or form potential working relationships with scientists themselves. Artists are advised to study the conditions and opportunities at each reserve site in preparation for their residency.

Use of the reserve must be approved by the reserve manager. Work may be limited by the presence of sensitive species, ongoing scientific experiments, resource preservation requirements, or other environmental conditions.

Artists may apply to work at one of the following reserves:

Reserve – Administering Campus

Sedgwick Reserve – UC Santa Barbara
Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory – UC Santa Barbara
Valentine Camp – UC Santa Barbara
Angelo Coast Range Reserve – UC Berkeley
Blue Oak Ranch Reserve – UC Berkeley
Hastings Natural History Reservation – UC Berkeley
Sagehen Creek Field Station – UC Berkeley
Yosemite Field Station – UC Merced
Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center * – UC Riverside
James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve – UC Riverside
Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center * + – UC Riverside

* summer weather is extremely hot
+ severe water use limits due to drought

For more information about individual reserves: http://nrs.ucop.edu/by_name.htm

About UCIRA

The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts is a statewide program dedicated to supporting and promoting arts practice and research across the University of California system. Through our grants programs we support UC artists and scholars from diverse disciplines dedicated to sustained public engagement, innovative approaches to form and content and research in the performing, visual, literary and media arts. We have additional interests in the dynamic and reciprocal relationship between creative research and teaching in the arts, and in supporting and showcasing projects that serve as demonstrations of best practices by artists within the University of California system.

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with our previously supported projects:

http://www.ucira.ucsb.edu/grants/past-awardees/

About the UC Natural Reserve System

When University of California researchers saw their research plots and teaching spots destroyed by development, a few forward-thinking faculty devised a way to preserve examples of California habitats for long-term study. The seven reserves established in 1965 have since grown into the world’s largest university-administered natural reserve system.

Today, the 39 sites of the UC Natural Reserve System include more than 756,000 acres. These living laboratories and outdoor classrooms provide protected environments for research, education, and public service. Most major state ecosystems are represented, from coastal tide pools to inland deserts, oak savannas to Sierra Nevada forests. The reserves also serve as a gateway to more than a million acres of public lands.

For more information about the UC Natural Reserve System: http://nrs.ucop.edu/

For further information on this program, please contact Art2NRS Program Coordinator Kim Yasuda: yasuda@arts.ucsb.edu

UCIRA Artist jesikah maria ross: Restore/Restory: A People’s History of the Cache Creek Nature Preserve

25 Jan
jesikah maria rossPhoto by fischphoto.com

jesikah maria ross
Photo by fischphoto.com

We are pleased to share some wonderful interviews on UCIRA artist jesikah maria ross’s project, Restore/Restory: A People’s History of the Cache Creek Nature Preserve

Restore/Restory explores the history of the Cache Creek Nature Preserve through the voices, views, images and experiences of a wide range of Yolo County residents. The project involved over 200 people in a collaborative effort to chronicle our diverse and changing demographics, traditions, and relationships with the land. University students, community members, and a media artist collected hundreds of audio recordings, photographs, and documents and curated them into the storymap, audio tour, digital murals, and historical timeline featured on this website. In many ways, the Cache Creek Nature Preserve is a microcosm of California and in telling its story we are revealing the larger story of California’s dynamic cultural and environmental heritage.

Restore/Restory was produced and directed by media artist jesikah maria ross and created in collaboration with the UC Davis Art of Regional Change and the Cache Creek Conservancy. The project aims to forge a shared “sense of place” that leads to just and sustainable stewardship of our natural and cultural resources.

Please click the below links to go to the interviews and articles on the project:

http://namac.org/idea-exchange/restore-restory-digital-media-education-community-storytelling-open-space-documentary

https://www.calegacy.org/making-nature-preserves-for-people-too/

UC Berkeley Artist Jeremy Fisher and the UC Design/Build Studio: Envisioning an Ecological Field Station for the 21st Century project

8 Jan

Since 2007, the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA) has developed experimental residency initiatives that offer opportunities for arts research to take place within the 36 sites of the UC Natural Reserve System (NRS). Primarily utilized for scientific investigation, these environments engage California’s diverse terrains, representing an untapped resource and opportunity for exploration by artists. Embedding artists within these field contexts offers new models that move beyond traditional methods of art and science, generating new forms of knowledge and practice through visual and material translation.

In 2010, UC Berkeley artist, Jeremy Fisher embarked on a project that did just that.  He was awarded a UCIRA Art+California Planning Grant for his project UC Design/Build Studio: Envisioning an Ecological Field Station for the 21st Century.  The Integrative Design Build Studio was proposed as an ongoing design/build studio for the UC NRS Blue Oak Ranch Reserve (BORR), organized by and for a team of interdisciplinary students from UC Berkeley.

P6070013

Over the summer of 2010, a week-long meeting was organized at BORR, which included 12 students, professors Mark Anderson and Bob Shepherd of the Architecture Department, Brent Bucknum from the Climate Clock team, the BORR reserve director Michael Hamilton, and BORR staff. The aim of this meeting was to gather information that would enable the team to plan the design/build studio.  Collectively, the team decided to simultaneously work on both the Master Plan and a design/build project, and to band together with Architecture Professor Mark Anderson’s Seminar scheduled for Fall 2010. In order to facilitate a collaborative design process among students in Building Science, Landscape Architecture, Architecture, and the Information school, they formed the ideaBerkeley student group; IDEA is an acronym for Integrated Design Education in Action.

IMG_3968

Just before fall 2010 ideaBerkeley held a meeting in the College of Environmental Design at which both Mark Anderson and Michael Hamilton spoke to a group of 35 students and discussed the possibilities for the coming Seminar. They recruited a small group of interdisciplinary students who met for the seminar three hours per week as a group and more often in smaller groups. Each student was charged with inviting a visiting speaker who had important skills and experience for our two objectives at BORR, the Meta Plan (aka master plan) and the design/build project. Speakers included Michael Hamilton, Climate Clock Team, Bob Glushko of the Information school, a representative from AutoDesk, and John Crowley of MIT’s Design/Build program. Using online tools such as a blog, website and wiki, we tracked our progress and project permutations as the seminar went on.
P6110046
Two subsequent trips to BORR with the students, Professor Anderson, and the Climate Clock team were great additions to the depth and breadth of the overall integrated design process. The original goals of creating a Meta Plan as well as designing and building a project proved to be very challenging with the short timeline, small budget and variety of stakeholders, opinions and skills. After many design iterations and of both structures and infrastructure for BORR, The Meta Plan became a set of floor plans to renovate the existing barn to accommodate large groups, and a site analysis report from the landscape design students. The design/build project was decided to function as both a “Wired Wilderness” observation platform, as well as a usable camping platform for visitors to BORR.

IMG_9391

 

 

For more information on this project, please visit: http://ucberkeleydesignbuild.blogspot.com/

For more photos of this project, please visit:  https://plus.google.com/photos/116227821447596280338/albums/5478281307755069489/5551425508751509362?banner=pwa

 

 

(majority of text taken from project final report)

UCIRA Artist Brings Music and Mentorship to Local Schools

19 Dec

UC Santa Barbara Brings Music and Mentorship to Local Schools

Source: University of California, Santa Barbara
Thursday, December 13, 2012
UC Santa Barbara Brings Music and Mentorship to Local Schools

The notes float in fits and starts, bubbles of whimsy breaking the surface. A music lesson is under way.

Selena Ross, a second-year student at UC Santa Barbara, is sharing her instrument and her expertise with Jasmine, an Isla Vista Elementary pupil and participant in the afterschool program that brought the pair together. Ross is mentoring Jasmine in music –– and tutoring her in math –– as a volunteer for a campus-based student organization and nonprofit called The MUSIC Club.

More commonly known by its acronym than its full name –– Musicians United in Supplemental Instruction for Children –– the club sends music-inclined college students into elementary schools, providing homework help and instrument instruction for underprivileged youth.

“It’s a wonderful experience to see all these kids so thrilled by music and instruments,” said Ross, a double major in sociology and English who is the club’s co-president and on-site coordinator for Isla Vista Elementary. “They love to learn. The fact that we’re able to work with these kids especially is such an important part of the program, and I feel we can have a true impact on kids who really appreciate it.”

And that’s the whole point. In 2006, on a $10,000 service-project grant from the Donald Strauss Foundation, founder Areo Saffarzadeh (’07, business economics, biology) positioned music as a means of academic motivation for underprivileged children: Bang out the homework, then bang on the piano.

The MUSIC Club functions exactly the same way today, partnering with established afterschool programs to deliver its vision to socioeconomically disadvantaged fourth, fifth, and sixth graders in Goleta. Volunteers from UCSB –– the club averages more than 20 active mentors each quarter –– visit Isla Vista and El Camino elementary schools each afternoon. They have also served students from La Patera Elementary through an afterschool program at the Boys & Girls Club in Goleta.

“What makes being involved with this program so refreshing is these kids, because learning music, for them, is a huge privilege,” said David Lee, the group’s executive director and a UCSB alumnus (’11, biopsychology). “For them there is no entitlement. They love learning music and they know that when they work hard, behave well, and do their homework, they get to learn music. They don’t have to, they get to, and that makes teaching and working with them all the better for us. That’s a huge part of why we stay focused on serving an underserved population –– to open the opportunity to learn music to people who otherwise may not be able to.”

That opportunity may one day be available to additional children, and not just in the immediate area. Local growth is imminent, said Lee, but The MUSIC Club’s long-range goals also include expanding its efforts elsewhere by launching new chapters, or satellite operations, on other college campuses with underprivileged youth nearby. They also aspire to a capital project, aiming to eventually offer a music and tutoring site that could be shared by multiple programs.

The organization’s steadfast devotion to engaging kids through music has struck a chord with teachers, who credit the still-small club with big impact.

“As a music teacher, I know in my core that music is essential for the development of children –– for their neural development, for their social development, for their self-esteem, and for the pure joy that it brings them,” said Blair Looker, a music and art teacher at Isla Vista Elementary. “So when I see The MUSIC Club bringing both one-on-one mentoring, tutoring for children, and music, I think it’s the best of both worlds … It’s all part of a large dialogue between these excellent mentors and our young students, and I value it totally.”

Looker has known The MUSIC Club since its 2006 inception, when Saffarzadeh and four friends first showed up at her school. She has since become an active advocate for the nascent nonprofit, recently joining its board of directors, and, through her Looker Family Foundation, awarding the group a $10,000 grant.

“It is a strong organization that has grown into a really coherent program,” Looker said. “I’m really appreciative of their vision and I think it’s a model that can be used throughout the UC system –– at the minimum –– statewide, and possibly nationwide. It’s a beautiful, simple model that enriches the UCSB students that are giving of their talent, and completely feeds and nourishes our students.”

Such strong belief in the group appears to be growing. As a registered student organization and community nonprofit, The MUSIC Club has received a $2,000 grant from the UC Institute for Research in the Arts, and a $2,000 Community Arts Enrichment Grant through the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission and the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, in addition to the Looker Foundation award.

“Funding for arts education is oftentimes targeted as one of the lowest priorities when budgets are reduced for K-12 public education,” said Catherine Boyer, acting director of Student Affairs Grants and Development. “The Looker Foundation gift demonstrates a strong commitment to both nurture the arts and make arts opportunities accessible for all our children. It also inspires our UCSB students to live their dreams: our student musicians are teaching their love of music to the next generation.”

 

Americans for the Arts Forum on ARTS & Economic Prosperity IV

16 Oct

What is society without art?  On one very basic level, for 4.1 million Americans, no art means no work. For American businesses and government, it means that $22.3 billion in national revenue dissolves.  These figures (from the Americans for the Arts 2012 national study of the Economic Impact of Arts & Cultural Organizations) remind us of how much power the arts have on a region’s economic and cultural legacy.  The arts are not a luxury; THE ARTS MEAN BUSINESS.

On Thursday, October 4th, 2012, I attended the Forum on ARTS & Economic Prosperity IV (organized by the Santa Barbara Arts Commission) at the historic Lobero Theater in downtown Santa Barbara to further examine the results of ARTS & Economic Prosperity IV study. This study (sponsored in part by the UC Institute for Research in the Arts) surveys 182 diverse regions from all 50 states and D.C. and is perhaps the most comprehensive investigation of the nonprofit arts and culture ever conducted.

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider kicked off the forum with a Proclamation for Arts & Humanities Month in Santa Barbara (October being National Arts & Humanities Month). Randy Cohen (VP for Research + Policy for the Americans for the Arts) followed with an inspirational keynote that emphasized the critical power the arts have in a sustaining a thriving economic community. On a local scale, the arts in Santa Barbara County generate over $124 million in direct expenditures in the community and provide 3,587 full-time jobs (almost as many jobs as the entire county of Santa Barbara provides and twice as many as the SB School District).

Diverse artistic and cultural events bring people in from various areas and encourage them to stay longer which results in more out-of-the-region dollars to be spent locally (32% of average audience members are from out-of-town and they spend more than twice the amount of event-related spending than their local counterparts).  Kathy Janega-Dykes, President and CEO for the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission, presented supporting facts that re-emphasized how important the arts are to leveraging significant spending behavior both locally and nationwide.

The Americans for the Arts study is perfectly timed with the release of the results of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) 2011 UC survey.  The UC Institute for Research in the Arts oversaw survey participation of all the UC Campuses with degree-granting programs in the arts.  The research that comes from this survey provides the first national data on how those with both undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in all arts disciplines develop post-graduation careers.  With the exorbitant out-of-state UC tuition (2012-2013 average out-of-state tuition is $55,578), it may come as no surprise that 97.4% of UC students are in-state.  After graduation, 75% of them stay in California and most work in arts industries.  Our arts grads provide unique skill sets that contribute to the rebuilding of a broken economy and the UC must continually adapt to be able to provide our students with the education and training they need to succeed.  As the only system-wide arts research unit, the UCIRA is devoting considerable effort to communicate the data from the SNAAP survey to a wider public and to integrate the outcomes of this survey into improved arts curriculum and administration.

For more information on these studies, please visit the following links:

Santa Barbara County Final Report:

 

Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP):

 

Written by ZouZou Chapman
UCIRA Program Coordinator

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