Poised on the brink of a new era in arts education, the College community eagerly awaits the construction of a dedicated center for the arts and creativity, one of the major initiatives of the College’s Become More campaign. Publicly launched in 2016, the campaign is the most ambitious fundraising initiative in the history of Holy Cross, with the goal of raising $400 million by 2020. A main priority for the campaign is “Inspiring Creative Teaching and Learning.” A new arts facility is central to this vision.
The center for the arts and creativity will both enrich and elevate the arts at Holy Cross: It will attract the brightest artistic minds to Mount St. James to teach, perform and study. It will encourage increased participation in the arts among the community.
And it will facilitate the integration of the arts and creativity into the curriculum, fostering the experiential, interdisciplinary and collaborative learning necessary for the leaders of tomorrow.
Visual arts department co-founder John Paul Reardon instructs Kevin Murphy ’57, John Hardy ’56, Frank Prebenda ’56, Peter Antanavicius ’55, James Harley ’55 and Thomas Lane ’59 in a drawing class in the “Barn” (where Loyola Hall now stands). Photo courtesy of Holy Cross Archives and Special Collections
Holy Cross’ forward-thinking emphasis on the arts is, in fact, rooted in its past.
According to Rev. William R. Campbell, S.J., ’87, the College’s vice president for Mission, “Recent academic scholarship continues to reveal the significant role the arts played in Jesuit ministry and missionary efforts over the centuries.
“Once the Jesuits committed themselves to the running of schools, they encouraged their students to cultivate their own creative talents through the visual arts and theatrical performances, including music and dance,” says Campbell. “And they did so not just for recreational purposes, but as expressions of the talents bestowed upon them by God. The Jesuits quickly understood that the arts could transform lives by deepening one’s understanding of one’s relationship with God.”
The College’s new center for the arts and creativity will build on this tradition, advancing the arts as a force for addressing the world’s most pressing concerns and empowering students to initiate positive change in their local, national and global communities.
A view of the new center for the arts and creativity from Figge Hall. To the left, you can see the Hart Center at The Luth Athletic Complex and on the right, Hogan Campus Center. Photo courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Designed by acclaimed architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the center will be situated between the Hogan Campus Center and the Luth Athletic Complex, providing a gateway to the Holy Cross campus — a visible space for the arts, accessible to the entire region.
The world-class facility will serve as the creative hub of campus, providing a shared home for the performance and rehearsal programs of the theatre and music departments, along with a new space for the Cantor Art Gallery and studios for dance. It will also feature a 400-seat concert hall and theatre; a 200-seat studio theatre to be named in honor of the late Kenneth “Ken” Happe ’58, a former associate professor in the classics department who also directed campus theatre productions, per a $5 million anonymous gift; practice and production spaces; a small outdoor amphitheater; flexible teaching spaces; and a media lab. To date, the College has raised $38.7 million in current and future commitments toward the building’s estimated $92 million total cost.
The late Ken Happe ’58 was a classics professor who also directed many campus theatre productions. The new studio theatre will be named in his honor. Photo courtesy of Holy Cross Archives and Special Collections
“We know that an education infused with the arts makes students better problem solvers and more flexible thinkers,” says Margaret Freije, provost and dean of the College. “This center will magnify those benefits by inviting students and faculty to explore together in a space that encourages creativity and experimentation. And it will allow the entire campus to embrace the arts as a way to build community and engage the wider world.”
A rendering of the interior “beehive” of the center for the arts and creativity. The new building will not only be an outlet for students majoring in the arts, but also a place where every student can explore the arts and incorporate them creatively into their studies. Photo courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro
From its modern, open layout to its innovative “beehive” creative gathering space, the center aims to open new possibilities for both theoretical and experiential learning. It will also foster opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations, enabling such programs as Arts Transcending Borders — a visiting artist-in-residence program initially funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — to widen their reach and inject the arts into every aspect of the Holy Cross experience.
“Holy Cross and its professors offer students an extraordinary education — I believe there is none finer in the United States,” reflects Cornelius B. “Neil” Prior Jr. ’56, a College trustee whose gift of $25 million has catalyzed the center’s creation. “My hope is that this gift creates a visible and integrated way for all Holy Cross students to experience the arts during their four years here.”
“The center for the arts and creativity is a critical investment in our vision for the College’s future,” says Tracy Barlok P19, vice president for advancement. “We’re grateful for the support of our donors, whose early gifts are a powerful endorsement of our mission and capacity for excellence. And our momentum keeps growing. In the coming months, the College will announce a significant fundraising challenge for the building, prompted by an anonymous donor.”
Bernie and Iris Cantor H03 stand with Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J., ’49 at the September 1983 opening of the Cantor Gallery, which currently resides in Fenwick Hall. Iris Cantor continues to support the College’s arts programs today. Photo courtesy of Holy Cross Archives and Special Collections
Concludes Iris Cantor H03, who, along with her late husband B. Gerald “Bernie,” has been a longtime benefactor of the arts at the College, “I’m proud to support Holy Cross in its exciting new endeavor to ‘Become More’ in the arts and across its enterprise. Holy Cross, your future is bright!”
Written by Rebecca Smith ’99 for the Summer 2017 issue of Holy Cross Magazine.
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