The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

July 1, 2004

UI Year Of The Arts And Humanities To Celebrate Culture Statewide

Beginning today (July 1), the University of Iowa Year of the Arts and Humanities will celebrate the rich cultural tradition of the arts and humanities at the university and throughout Iowa and forge cultural linkages between the academic community and communities around the state.

The celebration begins quietly this summer before moving into full gear with a kick-off festival in September and dozens of events, programs, and performances throughout the academic year. One highlight will be the Oct. 6 campus visit and public lecture by Bruce Cole, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Events will be organized around a unifying theme each month from September through April. September will celebrate The Life of Discovery, beginning with a kick-off festival Sept. 7 to 9 featuring music, art, lectures, readings and discussions. Other monthly themes include: Museums, Dance, Imagination, On the Road, Black Art and History, March Madness, and Carnival.

"We have selected themes that we hope will encourage people to think broadly about how discoveries made by artists and writers, by scholars and thinkers, can provide meaning for people from every background, bridging differences, creating sustainable economies, and adding to the fabric of life," said Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program and co-chair of the YAH steering committee.

The YAH steering committee will soon announce grants totaling more than $120,000 to three dozen proposals from faculty, staff, and students eager to participate in the yearlong celebration. The wide variety of projects includes storytelling from Decorah to Red Oak, ethnic music and dance from Burlington to Sioux City, and an online art show featuring a different work by an Iowa artist each day.

"We received an amazing number of quality proposals that demonstrate creative ingenuity and a strong desire to celebrate the university's rich arts and humanities tradition throughout the state," said Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and co-chair of the YAH steering committee.

In addition to the grant-funded activities, a host of new and ongoing projects will also be identified as part of the Year of the Arts and Humanities.

UI President David Skorton's determination to increase public awareness and support of the rich tradition of arts and humanities on campus and statewide led to his declaration of the yearlong celebration last fall. In addition to Merrill and Semel, Skorton named Charlotte Adams, associate professor of dance in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Willard "Sandy" Boyd, UI president emeritus and Rawlings-Miller Professor of Law, co-chairs of the planning committee.

Skorton also invited Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and those involved in arts and cultural venues and activities around the state to join the effort. Gov. Tom Vilsack declared 2004 the Year of Arts, Culture, and Recreation statewide, and Anita Walker, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, has been coordinating the statewide celebration.

"This year we remind all Iowans to take advantage of the rich cultural history our communities have and encourage Iowans to be explorers, discovering all the various arts activities, cultural venues and unique recreational opportunities that exist in our state," said Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson.

Skorton said the university's Year of the Arts and Humanities celebration would extend to five long-term care facilities, a dozen art museums, historical associations throughout the state, and public schools in Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs and Coralville, as well as many other venues statewide, offering programs that highlight the rich arts and cultural traditions of the university and the state as a whole.

"As an academic, social and cultural force, the arts and humanities comprise the soul of the university," Skorton said. "By celebrating a Year of Arts and Humanities we'll raise the profile of these fields and celebrate the immense reach and profound importance of academic arts and humanities. This effort will also build on our long partnership with many important cultural venues throughout the state."

Walker said that the statewide celebration is a powerful statement about Iowa's priorities. "Communities across the state are really recognizing how important arts, culture, and recreation are to building vitality for the future," she said. "As Iowa is growing and building its economy, creativity is the driving force and arts and culture are fuel for creativity."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,