Campus Performing Arts Centers Expose Community to the Arts

The best performing arts venue in your town may be at your local college campus. Campus performing arts center don't just feature student performers, they also frequently host visiting professionals. Added bonus: performances on college campuses are often less expensive than at other venues.

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By Jessica Lyons

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Higher Ed Performing Arts Centers

Schools aren't just a place where students are able to get an education. They are also a place for local communities to be exposed to culture. Many higher education institutions have their own performing arts centers where they put on concerts, dance shows and plays, among other events.

The University of Maryland's Claire Smith Performing Arts Center puts on about 1,000 events annually. The center describes itself as 'a vibrant community of artists, students and audience, where great work happens both on and offsite' and 'a place for learning, exploration and growth.' It specifically seeks to keep ticket prices affordable, making it easier for community members to attend.

The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, part of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offers performances to highlight music, theater and dance. It is 'dedicated to the advancement of education, research and public engagement through the pursuit of excellence and innovation in the performing arts.'

Another example is Atlantic Union College's Thayer Performing Arts Center in South Lancaster, MA. While promoting the performing arts, part of the center's missions is to not only serve their college community but 'the community at large.' This is done in part by 'offering to the community quality music instruction and membership in performance organizations.'

These are just a few examples of performing arts centers that have found a home at colleges and universities. If you look in your local area, chances are you'll find a school with a similar center that offers a variety of events, so there is a little something for everyone.

The Importance of the Arts

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Lorraine Wojahn, a former Washington State Senator, has said, 'Arts are the glue that hold a community together.' Another elected official, former Baton Rouge Mayor Woody Dumas, has been quoted as saying, 'The arts are the best insurance policy a city can take on itself.' There are many people who see the value and necessity of arts in society. However, sometimes funding cuts can make performing arts less accessible. But performing arts centers such as these are helping keep culture alive for their community members to enjoy.

There are other benefits worth noting too. These venues can give students and faculty members a chance to show their talents and perform, and some of these arts centers provide programming for local school children. Additionally, there is the potential for economic benefits as attendees go out to nearby restaurants or other businesses.

Read how the University of Washington's Henry Art Gallery is transforming lives.

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