AUSTIN, Texas—A program where fine arts students take their creativity back into their Texas hometowns has been initiated by The University of Texas at Austin to build new audiences for art and music in rural areas of the state and to foster better relationships between artists and their constituencies.
The new "artsreach" program will allow students to establish residencies in their home communities and present overviews of their work. The selected students will come from non-urban areas of Texas and will be chosen from each of the fine arts academic units — art, art history, music, theater and dance. The University Co-op, a college department store serving the university community since 1896, is providing the initial funding for the project.
"We want this program to have as wide a community impact as possible," said Dr. Robert Freeman, dean of the College of Fine Arts. "Students will work with local schools and schoolchildren, arts organizations, chamber of commerce associations and churches to develop new audiences for art and demonstrate the benefits and results of a fine arts education at the university.
"We must always remember that the arts aren’t just for the people who are doing them or for the wealthy — but for everyone," said Freeman. "The nation is doing a good job supplying the art and the artists, but needs to work on developing audiences." Freeman hopes to have at least three students a year participate in the residency program.
M. Cory Reeves, a senior in choral music studies in the university’s School of Music, has been chosen to participate in the artsreach program and will conduct a weeklong series of classes and performances Dec. 10-16 in his hometown of Rockport. The residency will culminate in a holiday concert Dec. 16 with the Corpus Christi Symphony featuring Reeves as a guest conductor.
The Rockport-Fulton High School Mixed Choir and the symphony will perform selections from Handel’s Messiah, Robert Shaw’s The Many Moods of Christmas and other holiday selections. The concert, which will be held at 2 p.m. in the Martha Luigi Auditorium in Rockport, will mark the first time the Corpus Christi Symphony has performed in the small coastal community.
The event also will serve as a benefit for the newly formed Aransas County Independent School District Education Foundation.
The first artsreach residency was a photography exhibition by University of Texas at Austin graduate art student Jennifer Small at the Bandera Frontier Times Museum earlier this fall. She also lectured and ran a workshop about potential careers in photography and photojournalism with the students at Bandera High School.
"We are trying to teach the students at the university not only how to play the flute more artistically or how to paint more beautifully, but how to develop constituencies for their own work," said Freeman. "This project will be good for the university and good for Texas."