The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a grant of $800,000 to Occidental to fund the College’s new Arts and Urban Experience Initiative.
The grant will support programming to engage students and the community in the arts and humanities as the College launches its new off-campus Oxy Arts Center.
The money, to be dispersed over five years through 2021, "will enable us to develop our new Oxy Arts Center into a creative hub that will link the arts and urban life and effectively transform the liberal arts experience at Occidental," said Occidental President Jonathan Veitch. The grant also will be used to stimulate deeper collaboration between academic departments, Oxy Arts and the campus’ new Institute for the Study of Los Angeles (ISLA).
Specifically, the funding will enable the College to enhance curricular offerings focused on the arts and urban studies; provide intensive summer research opportunities for students; and increase programming initiated by the two centers, including visiting scholars, artists and professors of practice, as well as to build organizational capacities for Oxy Arts.
"I am very excited about how the new Center will allow us to deepen our engagement with Los Angeles and provide meaningful opportunities to explore a vast array of issues through the arts and humanities that are affecting our urban region," said art history and visual arts professor Amy Lyford, associate dean for curriculum and academic support, who helped develop the proposal submitted to the Mellon Foundation.
The Arts and Urban Experience Initiative will activate programming and activities that are currently taking place on campus in visual arts, music, creative writing, theater, architecture and urban history by moving them to the new Oxy Arts space on nearby York Boulevard in Highland Park.
The space will enable and enhance partnerships with community arts stakeholders and function as a space for increased collaboration between community partners, faculty and students. It will also be a site for public programs and workshops, including art exhibitions, performances, concerts and screenings. Visiting artists, writers, speakers and community members will interact around thematic programs. To connect such productions to the rich cultural history of the area, ISLA will simultaneously present public talks and presentations, conduct oral history projects, orchestrate methodological workshops and encourage dialogue with cultural heritage organizations.