The University of Wisconsin is working to set up a "Creative Arts and Design Residential Learning Community." In other words, an arts dorm. It's scheduled to open in the fall of 2012.
But that's an oversimplification. The facility's purpose is to foster creativity across a broad range of students' future vocations, such as engineering and computer design, besides the arts.
With arts education lagging in public schools, students may not arrive at college with the skill sets they need to think creatively. "What we're dealing with is a pipeline challenge," says Patrick Sims, the community's faculty director and a professor of theater and drama.
"So what we're trying to do is catch them in that freshman year and expose them to any and everything that's possible as far as the arts are concerned, and not think about arts in the more traditional form," he says.
Slated for Sellery Hall, the facility will gather 65 to 130 students. The program would offer workshops, seminars, roundtables and other activities, including opportunities for socializing and fun.
Culture competency, social justice and collaboration will be featured in a required course at the community. "We're trying to create ways for students to interact, cross-disciplinarily," says Sims.
The learning community project is sponsored by the UW Arts Institute, University Housing and the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates. It will have 14 participating academic departments.
An early silent film produced in Wisconsin will be rescued, thanks to the Madison-based Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research.
The center has received a $5,600 grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to preserve a short silent film, The Lumberjack, filmed in Wausau in 1914. It was produced by the Paragon Feature Film Company of Omaha; the film industry was still spread across the country at the time, and the first Hollywood studio was only three years old.
Until 1951, most motion pictures were shot on nitrate-based film stock, which is extremely flammable, difficult to store, and often degrades.
The Lumberjack features Wausau residents as extras. After preservation and transfer to stable film stock, the center plans to make it available for viewing early next year.
The center is now seeking funds to preserve a 1933 film made in Madison, Our Own Gang, a parody of the popular Our Gang comedy series also known as The Little Rascals.
The center is a partnership between the Wisconsin Historical Society and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.