University of the Arts
Advancing Human Creativity
University of the Arts’ mission is simple: to advance human creativity. UArts believes creativity is the most essential skill for success in today’s society and has educated generations of groundbreaking artists, performers, designers and creative leaders for more than 141 years.
After being granted university status in 1987, University of the Arts became the largest institution of its kind in the nation, offering programs in design, fine arts, media arts, crafts, music, dance, theater and writing. It now features 30 undergraduate arts majors, 15 graduate programs and the nation’s first PhD program in Creativity.
Dear students, faculty and staff,
I write to you today with an important update regarding our plan for opening this spring. The global pandemic continues to wreak havoc across our country and around the globe, and little has improved since this summer and fall—indeed, in some areas the impact has worsened. Together with senior staff, deans, faculty and staff councils, the crisis management team and trustees, we have continually evaluated and re-evaluated our position as an arts university in the heart of a major city and how we will continue our work.
Though it is not the conclusion any of us hoped to draw, it remains clear that there is no way to host a sustained in-person semester that maintains the quality of the educational experience without compromising our values and our number one priority: the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.
With this in mind and together with all members of President’s Council (senior staff and every dean), the Board of Trustees and with overwhelming support among faculty members, University of the Arts will remain remote for the spring 2021 semester, with all courses beginning as scheduled on Monday, January 25.
This decision has not been made lightly and is not what any of us aspire to or hope for. Above all, we as a community believe we must always return to our core values. As I stated in March, our mission of advancing human creativity can only be pursued when our community of students, faculty and staff are healthy, safe and thriving. To jeopardize the physical wellbeing of our UArts and broader community is a risk University of the Arts will not take. For spring 2021, we will continue to move forward as a creative community bound not by a physical campus but by a shared value. We know a number of questions may arise from this decision, and with this in mind, we have identified a few important updates.
- School- & Program-specific Updates & Events: Each school will be communicating with their students on what to expect from their programs this spring. Please watch your email for more information.
- Spring Semester Dates: All courses will begin as scheduled on Monday, January 25. The academic calendar for the spring semester remains unchanged.
- Commencement: No decision has been made yet regarding Commencement. Our intention is to host an in-person Commencement celebration. Final determinations will be made closer to that time and based on the advisement and regulations of local, state and national authorities.
- Residence Halls: Residence halls and all dining facilities will remain closed for the duration of the semester.
- Campus Buildings: All campus buildings will remain closed, and in most instances, students, faculty and staff will not be permitted to enter.
Looking ahead, please know planning continues. We remain committed and are already hard at work to devise a plan for UArts to resume some limited in-person engagement this spring. Updates will be made frequently, and we encourage all students, faculty and staff to check their emails regularly as well as bookmark uarts.edu/covid19. Families are encouraged to register for the Generations newsletter to receive public updates.
President David Yager announced that the university is the recipient of a $1 million Redevelopment Assistance Capitol Program (RACP) grant from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This crucial funding will enable the university to develop a new Student Center to support UArts’ community of visual and performing artists.
“At University of the Arts, we believe that creativity is the true catalyst for social and economic change and the most essential skill for success in today’s global, technology-driven society,” President Yager said. “Now more than ever, we need to invest heavily in human creativity in order to build a more innovative and adaptable future for the next generation of thinkers, doers and dreamers—and that is just what this grant will allow us to do with the Student Center.
“On behalf of the entire university community, I want to offer my sincere thanks to Gov. Tom Wolf for choosing UArts to receive this very competitive funding, as well as Senator Larry Farnese, Representative Brian Sims and all the members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly who supported this project.”
With more than 65 percent of UArts students currently utilizing Gershman Hall’s classrooms on a weekly basis, the new space will not only act as the heart of student activity on campus, but will also be a vehicle to kindle human creativity and innovation in Philadelphia and beyond. The new center will provide an important gathering and learning space that is currently lacking on UArts’ very urban campus. It will also feature a gallery space, a film screening room and a performance center to showcase works of art by the university’s extremely diverse and talented student body, as well as performing and visual arts talent from around the globe.
“The construction of the new University of the Arts Student Center is a significant win for the entire university community,” said Paul Beideman, president of Avenue of the Arts Inc. “It will create a hub to foster human creativity and artistic growth for University of the Arts students for decades to come. But, importantly, it is also a significant win for the entire Avenue of the Arts and Center City neighborhoods in Philadelphia. It will be an imaginative space to share works by performing and visual artists from beyond university borders and will create a destination for arts and cultural enthusiasts from across the city, the region and the commonwealth. It will add a much-needed boost to our hard-hit restaurant and entertainment industry by patrons who travel to the university to view exhibitions and shows at the Student Center. This project is exactly what we need on South Broad Street at this moment.”
With shovels ready to hit the ground, this project will create dozens of high-quality, good-paying jobs in downtown Philadelphia over the course of the project. Consistent with its ongoing commitment to creating as diverse a student body and facility as possible, the university will ensure that at least 25 percent of those employed on the project are from minority populations and that at least 40 percent of those who are hired throughout the course of this project are based in Pennsylvania.
For naming opportunities, contact Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Andrew Pack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To all our UArts alumni and friends, what a year!
All of us have seen life transform before our eyes. At UArts, we’ve been privileged to witness how the creative spirit is thriving through these transitions. We are proud to share with you our first-ever online edition of Edge: The Magazine of University of the Arts, which can be downloaded as a PDF below.
Select stories are also available at edge.uarts.edu. In this issue, President David Yager reflects on the opportunities this year has presented. Additionally, we show how we are living apart, but creating together, and pay tribute to the generous alumni and donors that share our belief that creativity is not only essential for success, but also the catalyst for change.
News & Events
Conceived by Carrie Mae Weems and Pierre Loving, Resist Covid Take 6! aims to create an artist-driven public awareness campaign to educate and enlighten Black, Latinx and Native American communities about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives.
UArts is the exclusive presenter of Weems’ project in Philadelphia, where billboards, creative messaging and public art has been installed around Center City to highlight the virus’ staggering death toll. Phase 1 of the project at UArts is generously supported by the Jessica Hamilton Hardy Visiting Artist Fund.
The short documentary Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa, co-directed by University of the Arts Film Program Director and Assistant Professor Mike Attie along with Barabara Attie and Janet Goldwater, is included on the shortlist for various upcoming documentary film awards.
The film, which follows the work of the Philadelphia abortion hotline phone counselors, is among 15 others eligible to be nominated for the Best Shorts category for the 36th annual International Documentary Association (IDA) awards. The IDA Documentary Awards ceremony—which will be held virtually in January 2021—is notable for being the “world’s most prestigious event dedicated to the documentary genre, celebrating the best nonfiction films and programs of the year,” according to the IDA website. The site also indicates that the IDA “seeks to represent excellence in the documentary field from around the world, by emerging and established documentarians.” The final list of 10 nominees will be announced on Nov. 24.
Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa was also included on the recently released DOC NYC Short List. The 12 films included will be reviewed by a jury and one will be selected for a Directing Award. In addition, this list serves as the festival’s prediction for what might be shortlisted for the Academy Awards. According to IndieWire, “Historically, most of the DOC NYC short-list titles overlap with the Academy’s official 15-film Oscar Short List.”
In reaction to these announcements, Mike Attie commented, “Of course it's very exciting to be included on these lists. We never really considered the awards potential for Abortion Helpline—it's not what you think about when making a film like this—but clearly it is striking a nerve with audiences and programmers.”
These are just the most recent accolades among many that the project has received since its debut in 2019. Previously, the film was chosen from among 9,000 submissions to be screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival; was an official selection of the 2019 Philadelphia Film Festival as well as the 2020 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival; and won the Grand Jury Prize for Short Films at the AFI DOCS Film Festival, a major nonfiction film festival in the U.S.
All of this continued momentum serves to support the ultimate goals of the film: to raise awareness about the negative impact of discriminatory policies surrounding abortion—notably, the Hyde Amendment—and highlight the need for reproductive justice.
Kym Moore, an innovative and imaginative leader, theater-maker and scholar who continues to demonstrate the interconnected power of creative disciplines to impact and shape our reality, will join University of the Arts as dean of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts. Moore brings a passion and conviction that inspires joy, unity and drive within the artists, makers and creatives fortunate enough to work with her. Moore’s appointment will begin in January and concludes a nine-month national search for the future leader of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts, which began in fall 2019.
Currently, Moore serves as full professor and director of undergraduate studies in Brown
University’s Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, where she has taught for
more than a decade. As an educator, theater-maker and producer, she directs, devises and
writes works that utilize the unique materials of theater to examine the multiple dimensions of human existence and seek to cultivate a “culture worth living in.” She is the co-founder/co-artistic director of the Antigravity Performance Project, which was founded in 2012 to challenge the boundaries of theatrical convention and forge new frontiers in performance-making. Moore and her collaborators recently completed their second residency at the Yale Center for Collaborative Arts and Media toward the creation of a transmedia performance installation, Do Eye Know You? which they plan to premiere in Philadelphia next season. As a director and producer, Moore has received numerous awards together with her collaborators, including the Salomon Award (Time’s Up!), the Pen and Brush Playwriting Award (The Date) and two Dorry Awards for Best Direction and Production of a Play (The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry).
“We set out to find a truly imaginative and future-focused leader who gets the relevance of art and creativity today, and how it can change our world,” says UArts President and CEO David Yager. “In Kym we have found that leader, and she also defies the boundaries between disciplines. She understands what creatives bring to our society and knows how we must prepare—the work we must lead—to be relevant and reflective of the world we live in. To say we are pleased to welcome Kym to UArts is a great understatement. I can say with confidence, and together with the Office of the Provost and the entire search committee, from her very first on-campus visit back in March, we all feel as though we are welcoming Kym home.”
“The thought of working collaboratively across disciplines to ‘advance human creativity’ is
beyond my wildest expectations!” says Moore. “Centering the arts as a primary contributor to the development of society has been my mission as an artist and educator from the very start. To find an institution filled with faculty, students, staff and administrators that share the mission is surely a dream come true. I’m thrilled to be coming ‘home’ to a place I didn’t know existed beyond that dream state.”
Throughout her career, Moore has taught acting and directing nationally and internationally at Swarthmore College, Hampshire College, SUNY Purchase, Sarah Lawrence College, Notre Dame University, Indiana State University, the Juilliard School, Carnegie Mellon University, the SIBIU International Theater Festival (Romania), and the Belgrade Theatre (UK), among many other organizations. Her course Acting Outside the Box: Considering Race, Class, Gender & Sexuality in Performance has also been taught nationally and internationally, including at the National Theater Institute/Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, NYU Graduate Acting, University of Oklahoma/Norman, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Columbia University and the Juilliard School. Moore is a graduate of the State University of New York New Paltz (BA) and University of Massachusetts Amherst (MFA). She is an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab and the National Alliance of Acting Teachers.
Moore will assume leadership of University of the Arts’ theater programs, originally founded by Walter Dallas in 1983 and which became known as the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts in 2009. The school comprises four undergraduate degree programs and two graduate programs in partnership with Pig Iron Theater Company. The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts is one of seven schools at University of the Arts that span art, dance, design, film, music and theater.
Moore will succeed current Dean David Howey, who has announced his retirement after 24 years of outstanding service to University of the Arts as a faculty member, program head and dean. Moore’s appointment concludes a nine-month-long search process, charged by the Office of the Provost and led by a search committee comprising a truly interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff.
Unique to UArts
In addition to the distinct opportunity to study outside your major and in Philadelphia’s vibrant cultural center, we’re breaking new ground for creative exploration, expression and learning, year after year.
#UArtist is a celebration of the boundless creativity of the UArts community. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are welcome to share their work with us via Instagram by including #uartist.