From the Daily: Awarding artistic expression

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published April 14, 2014

The University of Michigan is home to more than 150 arts organizations that enhance culture on campus. Friday, many of these groups will come together at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre for the first-ever Accolades Achievement in the Arts Awards. The Accolades will recognize the accomplishments of student arts groups by announcing the winners of 18 different award categories as determined by student votes. Winners will receive various prizes including advertisement space vouchers and Student Organization Account Services funds. In addition to award delivery, the event will include group performances and special guests. The awards ceremony will commence at 8 p.m. with free admission. The event is a positive way to promote and recognize student arts groups, and similar events should be considered in the future.

The Accolades was developed by Arts at Michigan and its organizational collaborators. Arts at Michigan organizes events and opportunities for students to experience various forms of visual and performing arts at the University and in the Ann Arbor area. SAOR is a forum that meets monthly to unite student arts leaders from across campus, working to address topics in student arts and, overall, advocate and promote student-initiated art. Some of the organization’s most popular offerings include the Passport to the Arts, Art Outta Town and Welcome Week’s Artscapade.

The Accolades is an effective method for giving arts groups the attention they deserve. Though the University includes a number of talented arts organizations, many are often overlooked by students. The Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design — one of the University’s most competitive schools — offers a variety of notable exhibitions and has an impressive alumni network. Likewise, the University of Michigan Museum of Art is home to many notable pieces and exhibits that change throughout the year and in the past has featured works by famed artists such as Picasso. Still, many students tend to ignore these opportunities.

In addition to reaching out to students, the Accolades promotes positive relationships between student art organizations. Among a somewhat spread-out campus, the awards provide a space to unite students and celebrate artistic culture. Though many of these groups hold their own, separate concerts, the ceremony is an opportunity to juxtapose these performances, giving students a sampling of what arts organizations at the University have to offer.

Though Arts at Michigan has a stable marketing base — with a weekly newsletter e-mails and a prominent online presence — transparency could be increased between arts programs and the general student population. This might include a student-driven website where arts groups or individual students can post announcements about events or promote their own achievements. A transparent website would give individual students inside and outside of arts organizations the opportunity to engage with peers in art culture.

Among the constant academic and organizational engagements of campus life, it’s important that students and faculty recognize the opportunities provided by arts programs at the University. Visual and performing arts provide campus with necessary artistic culture and new perspectives through the achievements of peers. The Accolades Awards praise, unite and promote student groups, and similar events should be continued in the future to foster a positive community at the University.