Here's Mellon Foundation's New Scheme to Get Humanities and Performing Arts to Schmooze

Imagine the Mellon Foundation is friendly with both the performing arts and the humanities. (See Mellon Foundation: Grants for College Performing Arts.) While the foundation always has fun hanging out with these two disciplines individually, Mellon can't help but believe that the two of them would also have a great time together if they ever met.

That's where Mellon's Arts on Campus initiative comes in.  It's an attempt to entice these two borderline agoraphobes out of the house and fix them up on a friend date.

Arts on Campus was developed by Mellon Vice President Mariët Westermann and introduced in 2012. It will "be pursued in future years," according to the foundation's most current President's Report. (Read Westermann's IP profile.)

Through Arts on Campus, Mellon seeks to do the following:

...enhance the formal study of the visual and performing arts and the development of opportunities for students to learn from professional artists who are brought to campus for residencies of flexible scope and duration. The arts-on-campus initiative also embraces grants to presenting organizations that go beyond the traditional function of bringing artists, companies, or productions to campus, tying their presentations to the curriculum and to pedagogical experiments in the arts.

Alongside the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, Cal Performances at UC Berkeley and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois also received grants ranging from $600,000 to $800,000 through this initiative. Larger university development grants totalling $6.5 million went to University of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Princeton for "the integration of the design, making, and performance of art into their academic programs."

Below is a case study that offers insight on how Mellon's Arts on Campus initiative has worked at North Carolina University's Chapel Hill campus.

Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) recently received $600,000 from Mellon Foundation through Arts on Campus to put on a symphonic orchestral presentation at Chapel Hill. Emil Kang, executive director for the arts at UNC, told the Daily Tarheel that they intend to use the $600,000 to show "the unique ability for the arts to animate learning” and discussion of current events.

Chapel Hill's humanities and theater departments have been Mellon Foundation darlings since at least the mid-1970s, but the foundation's partnership with CPA is only about three years old. It began in 2010 with a total of nearly $1 million in funding for residencies and program support toward the Rites of Spring at 100 celebration. Rites at 100 was a series of studies and performances in memoriam of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky's iconoclastic piece. Like Rites at 100, the newer CPA project will feature a coinciding academic conference called "Music and the Line of Most Resistance: Rethinking Aesthetic Complexity."