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Introducing New University Arts Integration Programs

Photo: From flyer for our new “Engaging Performance” course.

UMS has long been an active partner in supporting academic excellence and innovation at the University of Michigan: we provide master classes with world-class artists for pre-professional students in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance; we’ve partnered with the Medical School to animate the Medical Arts, an innovative program to improve medical students’ bedside manner and empathic responses through exposure to the arts; and we’ve worked with dozens of individual faculty members and units on campus to link specific UMS performances to courses across the curriculum. This year, we’re building on that history of excellence to expand and strengthen the role that UMS plays in the academic life of the University of Michigan.

In 2013, UMS joined a select group of university-based arts presenters—Cal Performances at University of California at Berkeley; the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Carolina Performing Arts at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—in receiving multi-year grant support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to further integrate of our artistic programming into the academic enterprise at our home universities.

UMS’s Education & Community Engagement department has partnered with University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Sciences & the Arts to launch a series of initiatives that will encourage the inclusion of UMS performances, and arts-based learning strategies more broadly, into the undergraduate curriculum across all disciplines. We have created a Faculty Insight Group to advise us on the latest academic trends and needs on campus; we are piloting a Faculty Institute on Arts-Academic Integration to support faculty as they create or revise courses to include the arts; and we have started a new publication for faculty, Arts in Context: UMS in the Classroom, which provides them with suggested curricular ties and informational resources for each of our performances.

The final program we’re rolling out this semester is a new course focused on the UMS season called “Engaging Performance.” Team taught by Yopie Prins from the English department in the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts (LSA) and Matthew Thompson from Vocal Performance in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD), this course introduces students from all class years and academic disciplines to the wide range of performance styles and traditions that comprise our season each year. They’ll be attending seven of our performances this semester: Kronos Quartet, One Night in Bamako; Compagnie Käfig; Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord’s The SuitAlfredo Rodríguez Trio and The Pedrito Martinez Group; Asif Ali Khan Qawwali Music of Pakistan, and Brahms’ German Requiem. Inside the classroom, they’ll be meeting with UMS staff members to learn what happens behind-the-scenes at a major arts organization; experiment with some of the art forms they see on stage in hands-on workshops with local teaching artists; and discuss the performances with many of the visiting artists involved on and backstage. Throughout the semester, they’ll be reflecting on their experiences and growth as audience members through a series of written assignments.

“Engaging Performance” students will also be interacting with you, the UMS community, here on UMS Lobby throughout the semester. They’ll be participating in the “People are Talking” discussions for the performances they attend, and we look forward to having them present with us online and in the concert hall!

What was your student experience with the performing arts? Ask questions about this program or share your experiences below.