The Arts Matter Here

The Arts Matter Here
Uncommon Ground - The Arts Matter Here - Winter 2018

As the nation cuts corners on the arts, Denison goes all in. 

With its faculty, programs, and connections to the lively arts scene in nearby Columbus, Denison attracts students who value the arts. It comes down to personal attention, opportunities to create and to participate, and, of course, the College’s curricular offerings in music, theatre, dance, cinema, art history, studio art, and creative writing. 

Denison’s studio arts facilities, housed in the Bryant Arts Center, underwent a renovation and expansion a few years ago, and Denison’s Cinema House on the Fine Arts Quad provides opportunities for students in the Department of Cinema. Now the performing arts—music, dance, and theatre—are about to take up residence in a new state-of-the-art home on campus, with the construction of the Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts, which will open its doors in fall 2018.

“The arts at Denison are thriving,” says Ching-chu Hu, professor of music and chair of the department. “There are so many opportunities for students to participate and excel.” 

“The Eisner Center allows us to think about the programming of theatre, dance, and music collectively,” says Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre Mark Evans Bryan ’96. “The faculty can support one another in new ways; and, perhaps most importantly, students will rub shoulders daily with people who think and work in different ways. And they’ll be able to collaborate with one another, with the faculty, and with professional artists visiting our campus.”

“Students are exposed to artists from all over the world, including those who live right next door in Columbus,” says Sandra Mathern-Smith, professor of dance. “This is a space that supports, and honors, and encourages, and celebrates.”

“Our students have a clear appetite for integrating the arts into academics and everyday life,” says Life Trustee Sharon Martin ’65. She and her husband, Lanny, made a significant lead gift, which along with a lead gift from the Eisner Foundation (led by Life Trustee and former Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner ’64, his wife Jane, and their sons), launched the fundraising effort.  Other donors have been inspired to join in and make the new facility a reality. “The performing arts have the power to foster empathy across differences, to inspire our deepest and truest expressions of belief, and to reacquaint us with the power of our own imaginations,” says Martin. 

The College’s commitment to art and community does not live just on campus, says Hu. Denison engages with the world through creativity not only by bringing artists to campus, but also by taking the arts into the surrounding area through performances, partnerships, and shared spaces, like the Denison Art Space in Newark. “The performing arts, because they’re openly displayed, are a gateway to the College for the community and vice versa,” says Hu. “It allows us to come together for a shared experience. That’s powerful.”

“Denison has become a top liberal arts college for arts students who don’t want a conservatory,” says President Adam Weinberg. “We have huge strengths across our academic arts departments, and through a myriad student organizations. Students can pursue interests in music, dance, theater, studio art, art history, museum curation, improv comedy, cinema, creative writing, and a range of other artistic endeavors. And our proximity to Columbus gives students opportunities well beyond what many colleges can offer.”

Published December 2017