Last week’s announcement that WSU will no longer subsidize a performing arts program that brings traveling concerts and other performances to the Pullman community has led to confusion regarding the impact of the decision on the School of Music and other arts programs across the University.
The WSU Performing Arts program is an auxiliary University unit created in 2011 to bring ensembles and artists to campus. It is separate from the core academic units in the arts at WSU. The discontinuation of WSU Performing Arts in 2018 will not impact WSU’s outstanding academic programs in the School of Music or the Department of Fine Arts, or the more than 100 performances or exhibits offered by those programs each year.
The budget-based decision to close the WSU Performing Arts concert series program is one of a number of difficult decisions University leaders have had to make as they address the institution’s ongoing financial shortfalls and the critical need to balance the University budget in the next three years.
“Naturally, we are disappointed to learn that the WSU Performing Arts program will be cut,” said Greg Yasinitsky, director of the School of Music. “This will clearly have an impact on the cultural life of the institution. This does not mean, however, that all performing arts at WSU are being eliminated.”
Yasinitsky, a Regents Professor and a recipient of WSU’s Eminent Faculty Award, emphasized that students and faculty will continue to excel in the classroom and the concert hall.
“Our faculty include some of the finest musicians in the country,” he said. “They regularly release recordings and perform, give clinics and teach masterclasses on campus and around the globe.”
WSU students and the community also benefit from the steady stream of artists and musicians who visit and perform in Pullman.
This week, the School of Music is hosting the 25th annual WSU Jazz Festival, which brings jazz groups from throughout the region to the Pullman campus for adjudicated performances and a gala concert, and a variety of concerts are scheduled for Dad’s Weekend.
On Nov. 6-9, music alumnus and Hollywood film composer Paul Henning will give a series of talks and workshops for students. He will cap off his return to Pullman as the special guest of the WSU Symphony Orchestra. Henning worked with composer John Williams on the score for the Star Wars film “The Force Awakens” and composed the score for the recent Clive Davis documentary “The Soundtrack of Our Lives.”
The visual arts also continue to flourish on the Palouse. Faculty in the Department of Fine Arts are internationally recognized contemporary artists and scholars who collectively bring their varied professional experiences into the classroom. Students at WSU have opportunities to develop their craft and learn skills in a variety of media.
“Art is an important communications vehicle and the WSU community has access to numerous shows and presentations throughout the year. In addition to the Museum of Art, WSU’s fine art galleries regularly host student and faculty exhibitions, as well as work by top visiting artists and scholars from around the world,” said Squeak Meisel, chair of the Department of Fine Arts.
Events over the next few weeks include the Memento Mentori student exhibit in Gallery II, a community collaboration with Jefferson Elementary School in the Locker Gallery, and three visiting artist lectures and exhibits.
Investment in the arts at WSU is continuing as construction on the new Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, located in the heart of the Pullman campus, is nearing completion. A gift of $5 million from Portland, Ore. philanthropist and art collector Jordan Schnitzer served as the catalyst for this facility. The grand opening for the 10,000-square-foot museum with its distinctive crimson glass cube exterior is scheduled for the spring.
The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art will be the only fine arts museum of its kind in more than a 200-mile radius. Details can be found at https://museum.wsu.edu/.