March 3, 2016
$750,000 Mellon Foundation grant will fund research, collaboration in arts
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the University of Washington a three-year, $750,000 grant to support guest artists in developing new works, and to better integrate arts disciplines into the broader university curriculum.
The grant will support a Creative Fellowships Initiative, under which guest performing artist fellows will be recruited from around the world for one- to three-year residencies in dance, music and theater.
The initiative will mark the first time the UW’s performing arts units — the UW World Series, School of Drama, School of Music, Dance Program and Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXArts) — have joined together for an experiment of this scale.
The fellows will be chosen from among individuals and ensembles who are at the leading edge of contemporary performing arts and have significant experience in both creative development and education. Their work will be done though commissions, collaborations and performances, with an emphasis on crossing artistic disciplines.
Selection of the fellows will be collaborative; department chairs will act as leads with their faculty to create short lists of proposed artists, in consultation with Michelle Witt, UW World Series executive and artistic director.
“The Creative Fellowships Initiative builds on the University of Washington’s belief in innovation and the power of the arts to make positive change in the world,” said Gerald J. Baldasty, UW interim provost and executive vice president. “The program so clearly supports UW President Ana Mari Cauce’s mission to prepare the next generation of leaders through interdisciplinary learning that generates new knowledge and ideas.”
The residencies will take various forms, supporting both creative research and learning — whether working with or in view of students, part of a teaching residency or a commission or public premiere. The aim of the Creative Fellowships Initiative will be to encourage creative inquiry among fellows and scholars and researchers in other disciplines.
“In the STEM world we inhabit, research and innovation are seen as the domain of the sciences and technology,” said Todd London, professor and executive director of the School of Drama, “even as the values of art — creativity, collaboration and imaginative engagement with the unknown — are prized.
“This culture is both our challenge and opportunity, and we see these research-directed creative residencies as a way forward, both to serve our fields and to champion the values of art in the culture at large.”
Witt, who is lead investigator on the project with London, said, “We are deeply honored by Mellon’s partnership in providing opportunities for artists, faculty and students to engage in rigorous creative research. This important work will connect the arts, sciences and humanities in a shared process of discovery to advance the performing arts in our society.”
The UW performance arts units will partner with the UW World Series in these creative collaborations, while furthering their own work.