Arts + Design

Slide009The UC Berkeley Arts + Design Initiative FAQs

Inspiring Berkeley, Inspiring the World.


Creativity is a Public Good

The arts, together with the creative design fields, encourage risk and creativity; they teach collaboration and compassion; they join the conceptual with the pragmatic; they bring international cultures into bracing dialogue. We invite you to join us as we launch a comprehensive, cross-campus Arts + Design Initiative that will engage with each of these elements–and many more–as we work together to assess, feature, fortify and mobilize creativity as a public good.


Why Arts + Design?

Exhibiting a painting. Designing an app.  Applying algorithms to compose a piece of music. Creating a sculpture out of metal, clay, or paper. Singing in a chorus. Designing a building or a public park. Playing in a symphony. Dancing in a show. Creating an exhibition on the genome. Storyboarding a film. Directing a performance. Designing a stage set. Writing a novel.  Mining the connection between music and physics.

Through creation in the Arts and Design, we inspire the campus. Through innovation in the Arts + Design, we inspire the world.  By offering the university as a platform for creation, innovation, deliberation, and dialogue, we are ensuring that future global citizens have the capacity and commitment to advance the private and public role of arts and design for generations to come. The Arts + Design Initiative is integral to UC Berkeley’s goal to reinvent the future of public higher education in our globally-connected world.


Why the Arts + Design Initiative?

Led by Professor Shannon Jackson, the newly appointed Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts + Design (AVC A+D), the Initiative will assess, feature, fortify, and mobilize existing excellence in the arts and design at UC Berkeley, and foster new forms of dynamic collaboration, innovation, and public access across all arts and design fields, on our campus, and in public life.

On a campus where a plethora of arts and design programs have flourished, sustained by an array of world-class academic and presenting units, the AVC A+D Office seeks to synchronize efforts, maximize resources, and broaden the reach of Berkeley’s rich cultural offerings.  Established in response to a detailed campus white paper, “A New Strategy for the Arts at Berkeley,” the AVC A+D Office will position the Arts + Design Initiative as a vehicle for advancing the Chancellor’s three overarching campus priorities:   1) interdisciplinary research/creative accomplishment, 2) the undergraduate experience, and 3) local public service and global engagement.


Is the Arts + Design Initiative going to add more bureaucracy at Berkeley?

It better not!  Indeed, the Arts + Design Initiative is part of a broader campus effort to reduce bureaucratic barriers to collaboration. Berkeley is known for its “comprehensive excellence” in all fields and for its commitment to freedom of inquiry; such a culture has enabled the growth of diverse, varied, and intellectually rich campus endeavors in Arts + Design. A less desirable result is that our departments, centers, clubs, and presenting organizations are not always synchronized with, or even fully aware of, each other. Our diffuse if vibrant landscape limits our capacity to communicate the richness of our creative campus to our students, staff, faculty, and alumni, as well as to a general public of creative professionals and engaged audiences. It is time to match the intellectually and creatively collaborative ethos of our campus with structures that encourage operational collaboration as well.


Is the Associate Vice Chancellor also the Director of ARC? What’s the relationship?

The Chancellor’s announcement of the new AVCAD position also included a position as Director of a newly imagined Center for the Arts and Design as a base of operations to guide the Initiative. However, with so many arts and design-focused centers on this campus — the Arts Research Center, the Berkeley Center for New Media, the Jacobs Institute for Design, and more —we think it best to examine this organizational landscape before creating new entities. Hence, in the near term, ARC will function as a research platform within the Initiative, providing acommons for the many faculty and campus organizations engaged in cutting-edge arts + design research and public inquiry. We have been inspired by how Matrix is functioning for the social sciences, seeding its own research will being a hub for a range of centers and projects throughout the campus. We look forwarding to cultivating experimentation and inquiry into the arts and design while simultaneously developing an organizational strategy that advances the research and creative accomplishment of a wide variety of faculty and campus units.


Has the Arts + Design Initiative done anything yet?

We are very much in the “initiation” stage. In the summer of 2015, we hosted a range of consultations as well as five “summits” attended by more than 100 campus administrators, faculty, and program staff to promote communication and coalition-building across multiple Arts + Design units:

  • Arts + Design Research and Creative Activity Summit – How might we incubate faculty work and that of visiting artists and designers? How might we visualize our collective research program? (8/19)
  • Arts + Design Website Summit– How might we best represent our large arts and design campus network without diminishing the unique brand and identity of each arts and design unit? (6/30)
  • Arts + Design Fundraising at Berkeley – What might we learn from each other and our peer universities? What meaningful collaborations are possible? (5/19)
  • Students + Community Engagement – What might the arts and design on campus offer the Bay Area arts and design ecology? How might partnerships with our Bay Area communities enhance the Berkeley student experience? (5/7)
  • Tickets + Culture Passes – How might we to enable Berkeley students to experience more art affordably? (5/4)


What does the Arts + Design Initiative plan to work on in its first year?

  1. Making UC Berkeley’s creative range visible to ourselves and to the public: Arts + Design Comprehensive Website
  2. Facilitating and subsidizing student attendance at cultural events:  Student Culture Pass
  3. Making a Campus Arts + Design Hub featuring space for convening and creating:  Rehab Dwinelle Annex
  4. Advancing the core principles of the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Initiative:  Curricular Initiatives
  5. Community building, engagement, fundraising: Continued coalition-building across units


Can you give me any funding?

The Arts + Design Initiative ultimately seeks to establish multi-unit platforms for long-term fundraising. As a first step, we will offer modest funds to multi-unit projects to build a track record of core research and curricular strengths at UC Berkeley in the Arts + Design. We will support projects that propel and require operational collaborations across multiple units.It is anticipated that a call for multi-unit funding proposals will be issued in late 2015.


What’s the long view? What are some aspirations for the Arts + Design Initiative?

  • A Multi-Unit Feasibility Plan for building and renovating all arts and design facilities, instruments, and materials to propel arts/design literacy, thinking, and making for the 21st Century.
  • A Strategic Faculty and Staff Hiring Plan in the Arts and Design, identifying multi-unit priorities and factoring needs and roles for visiting/adjunct faculty, ladder-rank faculty, and expert staff.
  • A Locally- and Globally-Engaged Creative Campus that Advances the Public Good: At a time when many tout the importance of “creativity,” UC-Berkeley emerges as a model for creative experiment, one enriched by the scientific and cultural wealth of a world-class university and guided by public values rooted in our commitment to access, equity, and social impact.


Who Belongs to the Initiative?

You tell us, but for the moment we have started with a wide array of departments, centers, colleges, museums, and presenting organizations where the arts and design are core to their identity.  We note, however, that the arts and design reach deeply into every discipline on the campus; hence, we also offer examples of departments and centers whose mission is being advanced through involvement with the arts and design. For a working list of affiliates click here.