Take 5 — President Michael F. Adams on the performing arts
Q: Why are the performing arts important to a national research 1 institution?
A: The performing arts are important at a place like this because they greatly enhance the social and cultural life of a great university. The arts also implicitly encourage students, faculty, staff and administrators to pose and ponder big questions. Western culture is in many ways embodied in the messages of music and art and drama and dance.
Q: In your opinion does having the arts at UGA improve the quality of the Athens community?
A: It’s not accidental that this community is on virtually every list of great places to live for everyone from Millennials to retirees. A great part of that is the cultural life here in Athens. There are few if any places of 100,000 people in population in America where you have the breadth of art, music, dance and drama available to you that we have in Athens. It runs all the way from the very best classical music to hard rock to, dare I say it, redneck rock. One of the great strengths of Athens is its cultural diversity.
Q: In a bad economy, how does a state institution like UGA keep up its performing arts programs, which do not bring the significant federal funding like the sciences?
A: We simply have to depend on our friends and benefactors. The people heading those UGA units know that in today’s world fundraising is one of their primary responsibilities, and I make that very clear to them. I don’t know of any place in the world where the arts pay their own way. Many countries support the arts better than we do in this country, and I believe that our state and federal governments are missing an important economic development opportunity by not investing more money in the arts.
Q: How have you seen the schools of performing arts change since you arrived 15 years ago?
A: They have changed dramatically both in facilities and personnel. We have built the new Lamar Dodd School of Art, significantly improved the facilities for dance and drama and raised the money for a much-needed expansion of the Georgia Museum of Art. We have seen a great broadening of offerings at the Performing Arts Center under the leadership of George Foreman. In all these areas—art, drama, dance, music, performing arts—we have highly capable, dedicated faculty and leaders who are talking together and working together more fully than ever before. I still believe, as I have mentioned before, that this university would benefit from a school or college of the fine arts.
Q: What opportunities do the arts provide for UGA students, both on and off campus?
A: They are literally unlimited. We have seen in the past couple of years a significant uptick in the number of students taking advantage of the on-campus cultural activities. When you add to our offerings the offerings of the greater Atlanta community as well as the academic community there, there may not be a richer series of opportunities for students in America. One of our jobs is to get students to see beyond their normal classroom routines and sporting events. Never again in a student’s life will he or she experience the kind of cultural offerings available on a university campus, and I hope they take advantage of that.