l Capital University Journal
Sac State arts programs: In tune with the community
The arts at Sac State strike a chord throughout Sacramento largely because of more than 50 years of contributions by Sac State faculty, students and alumni, who have dedicated their lives and careers to promoting, nurturing and providing quality cultural arts.
Well-known local artists such as Jack Ogden, Bob Brady and Bob Else have taught Sac State students for years, while making their own significant contributions in their field. Composer and Grammy award-winning musician Bobby McFerrin attended Sac State and his father was on the faculty. And the Smithsonian and others have recognized emeritus professor, artist, musician and poet laureate of Sacramento Jose Montoya. The contributions of alumni and former students are extensive, with artists such as Wayne Thiebaud, Greg Kondos, Fritz Scholder and Tom Hanks learning skills here early in their careers. And there are many others of similar prominence.
We prepare artists, most of whom live here, teach here and make a lasting impact on the arts environment within this community, says Rollin Potter, director of the Universitys School of the Arts. Our impact is long-lasting, educating artists who are dedicated to their craft over the long term10, 15, even 50 years in this community. This is not merely a theoretical program. This is a program where students and faculty are engaged in their arts. These are the professional artists of this community."
Roberto Pomo, chair of the theatre and dance department, points out an important example. "Many of the faculty at the local community colleges and many of the people involved in local community theater groups graduated from Sac State academic programs, and they continue to remain close to the arts community. There is a commitment by our students to this community, and our graduates find a way to stay involved in the arts, one way or another," he says.
"There is a passion for the arts here, and the lives of thousands and thousands of Sacramentans have been elevated and enriched by campus performances, exhibits, lectures and displays," says Robert Jones, vice president for University Affairs, who works closely with the community-at-large.
Jones cites as an example the tremendous contribution of the University's Capital Public Radio (CPR) stations in the region, which provide classical music to an audience of nearly 150,000 weekly.
Mike Lazar, president of CPR says, "We feel we serve as a catalyst for the arts, as a promoter and educator about the "arts scene' in Sacramento."
To increase the synergy and vision for the arts on campus and in the region, the campus arts programs were united into a School of the Arts in 2000. That step allowed the University to provide students with a full array of skills needed by a working artist–from staging, to performance, to technique. The campus presents educational opportunities that are classical, diverse, academic, cutting edge and fun–offering programs in visual arts, music, dance, theater, photography, design, and the literary arts.
"Our performances and entertainment on campus have a tight connection to our curriculum and our students," says Ernie Hills, chair of the department of music. "When we bring in performers, in almost all cases it has a direct connection with the classroom. We offer master classes, classroom visits, residencies, and student networking opportunities that allow them to deal directly with professionals from Los Angeles, or New York, or even internationally."
To encourage students to pursue a life in the arts, scholarships are available for student artists and there is a substantial endowment specifically intended for students in the performing arts.
The growth and development of the arts on this campus has been steady and significant, says William J. Sullivan, dean of the Sac State College of Arts and Letters. "We continue to build and grow—to give to both our students and the community. Our connection to the community is very strong and it is important to our students and faculty, who live and work here, to be certain that the arts are vital and strong," says Sullivan.
As examples he notes:
addition to the well-established artistic events, the programs continue to bring
new and diverse opportunities for students and the public.