If there were any doubts about interest in UMB’s new Council for the Arts & Culture they were quickly dispelled when nearly 100 people nominated themselves for the handful of available slots on the council.
“We were overwhelmed by the response,” says Jennifer B. Litchman, MA, chief communications officer, vice president, and special assistant to the president, who chairs the Council. “And when Dr. Perman met with the Faculty Senate, Executive Committee of the Staff Senate, and the University Student Government Association to discuss this before the nomination process, he received really, really positive feedback. It was a ‘gosh, we’ve been waiting for this’ type of response.”
The Council for the Arts & Culture is dedicated to enriching life on the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) campus and throughout the city by offering robust arts and culture programming — exhibiting artwork in UMB buildings and public spaces, arranging visits to museums and performing arts centers, hosting events for the campus community and city residents, all the while keeping in mind the dynamic relationship between the arts and sciences.
It is part of the strategic plan goal to “create a vibrant, dynamic University community.” A campuswide announcement on Dec. 16 introduced the Council for the Arts & Culture, but it had been in the works for more than six months.
Connecting UMB to the Arts
“I was at a meeting at UMBC last summer and the discussion turned to how wonderful it would be if we could collaborate in a way that would bring UMBC’s robust arts programs to this campus,” Litchman recalls. “And I thought ‘wow, that would be great!’ And the more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea. And in addition to partnering with UMBC, what about MICA? What about The Peabody? The Hippodrome? Let’s form a council for the arts and see what we can do with it.”
So in June, there will be a UMB Night at Everyman Theatre with discount tickets for Noel Coward’s play Blithe Spirit. Many other ideas are in the works.
“When 5 o’clock comes, UMB becomes a graveyard,” Litchman says. “To create a more vibrant, dynamic University community means we have to do things differently. And if that means having activities and events and concerts after hours here on campus, let’s do it. Why go see a play in the suburbs when you can see one here?”
As the council’s first partner, UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) will bring its symphony orchestra to Westminster Hall for a free concert. UMBC’s Catalyst program will grow into a joint UMB-UMBC venture, with informal one-hour interdisciplinary presentations that fuse the performing and visual arts with other fields of investigation and scholarship. The events often serve as an incubator for future collaborations.
UMB’s commitment to its West Baltimore neighborhood is part of the council’s plans as well, with plans to expose local schoolchildren to the arts.
As council chair, Litchman has surrounded herself with a strong supporting cast.
The standing committee includes Priya Bhayana, director of the Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment District; Kathy Schuetz, chief of staff of the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC); Olive Waxter, director of the Hippodrome Foundation; and UMB colleagues Angela Fowler-Young, MRP (capital budget and planning); Nancy Gordon (protocol and special events); Larry Pitrof (Medical Alumni Association); Jane Shaab (economic development); M.J. Tooey, MLS, AHIP, FMLA (Health Sciences & Human Services Library); and Ashley Valis, MSW (community initiatives and engagement).
The rotating members of the council serving two-year terms include students Athena Balanou (nursing), Zach Kaminski (medicine), Carolyn Rosinsky (Graduate School), Lara Seidman (dentistry), Alexandra Silanskis (social work), Jennifer Smith (law), and SeJeong Yoon (pharmacy); faculty members Karen Kauffman, PhD, CRNP, RN, FAAN (nursing), Robert Lavin, MD (medicine), and Linda Simoni-Wastila, PhD, MSPH (pharmacy); staff members Meghan Codey (academic affairs), Randy Jacobs (dentistry), Susan Krinsky, JD, MPH (law), Lolly Forsythe-Chisolm (UMMC); and community member Cassandra Kapsos, a local digital artist/photographer.
“The council is a great cross-section of people with disparate interests,” Litchman says. “We didn’t want everyone to play an instrument or to have an acting background. We wanted people with great ideas and a commitment to the arts here at UMB and we have achieved that in a big way.”
Find out more about the Council for the Arts & Culture.