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Arts and humanities deserve more support, recognition for academic, extracurricular endeavors
Yesterday, the UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance kicked off its run of the musical “Flora the Red Menace.” This joint undergraduate and master of fine arts performance is sure to be another great production that reflects the high quality of arts and humanities programs UC Davis is to home to. Unfortunately, this production, like all of the performing arts at UC Davis, isn’t getting the recognition and publicity it deserves.
UC Davis, which heavily promotes its science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, has a history of ignoring its humanities fields. When Gary May took on the position of chancellor, he debuted the “To Boldly Go” strategic plan, which outlines the university’s aspirations for the next 10 years. In the plan, “arts and humanities” is only mentioned once. “Science” is mentioned 23 times.
This utter lack of recognition is disappointing and surprising since UC Davis is, in many ways, a leader in the arts and humanities. While UC Davis does have top-tier STEM programs, it is not solely a STEM school. The university boasts a top ranked English Literature Ph.D. program, a new Masters in Creative Writing program and offers a diverse range of artistic majors. The UC Davis campus is also home to state-ranked A capella groups like the Lounge Lizards and the Spokes, improv comedy troupes like Birdstrike and Cherry Pie, student-run theatre organizations like Studio 301, dance troupes, musical ensembles, fashion designers and textile artists, poetry readings, open mics and artists including painters, sculptors, media and installation artists.
Recently, the Department of Theatre and Dance’s production of “The Bluest Eye,” which uses puppetry, was performed at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 7 Finals. The cast is hoping to advance in the competition for the opportunity to perform at the Kennedy Center. This amazing accomplishment was only featured on arts department outlets.
Because of this intense focus on STEM, arts and humanities students, as well those involved in the arts, are forced to promote their events and programs for themselves. The arts on campus are seen only because of the work students put into advertising and promotion. Many students involved in the arts feel like the university trivializes both their academic pursuits in the arts and humanities and their creative extracurriculars.
In addition to making advertising a responsibility for performing students, UC Davis seems to ignore the arts and humanities in its marketing, including campus tours presentations that only feature STEM statistics and posters lining Unitrans busses that make arts and humanities majors appear to be accessories tied to more valuable STEM majors. This double major advertisement campaign suggests that arts and humanities majors should only be pursued when paired with a more “useful” STEM degree.
Tickets for most performances don’t cost more than $20 and many are free, so take some time out of your evening to take in high caliber art, whether that’s “Flora the Red Menace” at the Wyatt Pavilion or the ever-changing student museum that comprises the first floor of the Art Building. The arts deserve more recognition on campus. The Editorial Board encourages students to take the time and effort to indulge in what our campus presents.
Written by: The Editorial Board