Make it Thrive
Ernest Valdez, Class of 2006
How to Support the Fine Arts At Southwestern
Paul Gaffney, Dean of the Sarofim School of Fine Arts (SSFA) has set his sights high for the future of the fine arts at Southwestern. In the short time he has been a part of the University, Gaffneys down-to-earth personality and sincerity of purpose have significantly impacted the campus community. His desires to see the fine arts take deep root at the University and for its reputation to flower beyond the confines of the campus are infectious. To realize these desires, he has cited three areas of the SSFA in need of immediate action: the renovation of the central building, new musical instruments, arts equipment and equipment maintenance, and increased funding for student travel. Gifts of all sizes from alumni will make a difference in each of these three areas.
While there have been significant additions to much of the Fine Arts Building, its core structure has not been updated in half a century. In recent years, Southwestern has worked with faculty, students, staff and architectural consultants to plan for the renovation of the Alma Thomas Theater and surrounding central structure. A gift of $8 million by Fayez Sarofim provided the necessary funding for much of the recent work as well as the planned renovations for ATT. Bringing the building up to ADA specifications and renovating the labs are among the improvements outlined in these plans. As several faculty have noted, The SSFA needs to be a safe, sound environment in which to teach aspiring musicians, artists and thespians.
The purchase of new musical instruments, studio art and theater equipment, and the maintenance of existing instruments and equipment is another funding need put forth by Gaffney and the fine arts faculty. Music students in the SSFA are not required to purchase their own instruments. In fact, most students do not even incur a rental fee for the use of their instruments. Providing musical instruments for students to use is integral to securing broad participation in the music programs. It removes the prohibitive cost of buying or renting instruments as a factor in a students decision on whether or not to pursue the musical arts while attending Southwestern. Yet, the purchase and maintenance of these instruments is a costly endeavor. For example, timpani, English horns, chimes, a piccolo trumpet, a baritone saxophone and a flute, just a short list of instruments currently needed, will cost the University over $30,000 to purchase.
Despite existing resource challenges, students of the Sarofim School exceed performance standards of the typical undergraduate. Accordingly, they are often invited to attend scholarly conferences, to perform in concerts or to view special collections and exhibits. Participation in these important events is often limited or impossible because of the shortage of travel funds available for students. With an increase in gift support, students would be able to travel to cities such as Dallas, Fort Worth, New York or even Barcelona and take advantage of rich opportunities to hone their craft, study their art and share their academic work. Recently, a composer in Australia extended an invitation for Southwestern students to participate in the premiere of his work at the Sydney Opera House in summer 2006. Current funding levels permit too few students to reap the rewards of these educational prospects.
For more information or to learn about giving opportunities that support The Fine Arts at Southwestern, contact the Universitys Development Office at 800-960-6363 or 512-863-1482.