Arts & Ideas series to promote ‘Voices of Democracy’

Sarah Russe, Vice President for Community Relations

Sarah Russe, Vice President for Community Relations

Entering its seventh season, the Celebrating Arts & Ideas series is coming off its most successful year to date. We asked Sarah Russe, Vice President for Community Relations, what we can expect in 2012-2013.

What is the vision for Arts & Ideas?
For seven years we’ve been dedicated to bringing the campus and community together through the Celebrating Arts and Ideas program. We’ve been entertained and informed, and our perspectives have widened. This year’s Celebrating Arts and Ideas series promises to capture the excitement of the upcoming presidential election, while addressing the hope for a more civil political discourse. The theme of the program, ‘Voices of Democracy,’ convenes special guests offering perspectives on American government, patriotism and essential issues that are affecting our society.

We are committed to providing quality cultural experiences for the community free of charge. We also are pleased to have so many partners in the community helping the university provide the resources necessary to underwrite the costs of the events, and we hope to expand our donor base of giving.

What are the highlights of this season?
We are pleased to have Parker J. Palmer & Carrie Newcomer, New Sousa Band, Monica Corwley and Martin E. Marty on campus this fall. We are also excited to welcome Alan Wolfe, David Schrader, Kay Redfield Jamison and Luis Alberto Urrea in the spring.

We saw an opportunity for our seventh season to focus on topics that people will undoubtedly be talking about during the election year. With ‘Voices of Democracy,’ we again will be hosting thought-provoking presentations and engaging performances with an emphasis on our country’s past, present and future.

We also have an exciting of lineup of films, plays, exhibits and musical performances with our own faculty, staff and students. The Third Thursday Concert Series has been very popular and we look forward to showcasing members of our very talented music department as well as other local musicians.

How do you choose performers for the Arts & Ideas series?
A small committee reviews the list of musicians and lecturers we would like to bring to campus. Members of the university and area community also offer suggestions for performers. Agents now contact me to ask if their clients can be part of Arts and Ideas.

What role has the series played in engaging the community?
The majority of our audience members come from the surrounding communities. More and more people inside and outside the Fox Valley have attended our events and been pleasantly surprised to find the university here and thriving in Aurora. 

How did last year’s season rank as far as attendance?
We had more than 7,000 people visit campus and attend our various events, including the films, theatre and music performances. We have more than doubled attendance since the first year of the series.