Monday, January 3, 2011

Good news for USC to start the New Year

In my "pre-relaunch" post just before Christmas, I mentioned the demise of the USC Arts Institute (which officially closed up shop on Dec. 31) and wondered whether the university would still somehow find a way to keep Jeffrey Day on board to continue compiling the excellent newsletter he had been distributing via listserv. The newsletter (and Arts Institute's calendar) provided centralized information (both the who-when-where variety and also more in-depth background info) about all the arts doings at the University of South Carolina. This included instrumental music, opera, theater, the visual arts, the events at McKissick museum, and even worked in some arts-related aspects of other academic departments at the university.

The university has faced tough sledding in this economic climate as regards funding from the state; it looks to face potentially even tougher sledding once Nikki Haley assumes the governor's office nine days from now. A public university's role in the community (the city where it's located but also the state as a whole) goes beyond the education it provides its students in the classroom. The resource of talent a university gathers together, both academic and artistic, is one that can be drawn on by anybody in the community. Nowhere is this clearer than with the arts, considering that most of USC's arts offerings are free to the public or relatively low-cost. Anything that can make this point to the community with maximum impact is of vital use, to the community of course but also as a very pragmatic tool for the beleaguered state university as well, as it continues to make its case with legislators and the governor. The Arts Institute's newsletter provided this impact, more strongly than if each arts school or department relied only on its own listserv to get the word out. Plus, the Institute and the newsletter helped to work against the balkanization of the arts that often happens within the academic setting.

So it bodes well for USC and for Columbia that the new year brings this good news: in spite of the Arts Institute's demise, Jeffrey Day will continue to compile the centralized newsletter of USC arts events in 2011. To whomever at USC is responsible for keeping this going, I can only say: "Smart move." The link at right (USC Arts Calendar) takes you to a handy tool for your cultural-events attendance plans; but by all means, go to this link to sign up for the newsletter. Let's hope this excellent news is but the start of a wave of positive developments for the arts in this city, region, and state in 2011.

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