Dean Douglas Dempster

Ryan Hutchison is the executive director of the Hispanic Alliance for the Performing Arts, one of the organizations sponsoring the Fall Into Music instrument drive.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

When representatives of a local instrument drive announced they were collecting donations for Austin music students, they expected gently used instruments, not centuries-old family heirlooms. 

An 1800s German violin was donated to the inaugural Fall Into Music instrument drive benefitting thousands of underserved students in citywide music education programs. The violin was among 30 other instruments collected within the first day of the drive. The drive, which began Wednesday, will run through Sunday and is part of a joint effort by the College of Fine Arts and the Hispanic Alliance for the Performing Arts. 

“The College of Fine Arts got involved with this program because we are, among our other missions, dedicated to providing high-quality arts education to the school children of Texas,” Dean Douglas Dempster said. 

Ryan Hutchison, the executive director of the Hispanic Alliance for the Performing Arts, said he believes the drive comes at a crucial time. 

“The beginning of the school year is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the need for music education and the great programs providing it across the city,” Hutchison said. “Fall Into Music is the perfect platform to get instruments into the hands of new students.”

Austin Soundwaves, a free program that aims to provide high-quality music education to underserved students in Travis County who attend East Austin College Prep, is one of nine nonprofit organizations benefitting from the drive. 

“Our ability to take on new students is based on how many instruments we have," program director Patrick Slevin said. "We have the interest but not the more unique or expensive instruments.”

According to Slevin, African-American and Hispanic communities in East Austin are the most neglected musically.

“Austin has an exceptional public music education system,” Slevin said. “At the same time, there are discrepancies based on the geographic location of the school.”  

Dempster said such educational inequity leads to unfortunate consequences down the road. 

“Inequitable access to fine arts education in the K-12 schools of Texas dominoes into unequal educational opportunity in college and universities," Dempster said. "That’s wrong.”

Hutchison pointed out the benefits of having access to music education can extend even beyond the classroom. 

“It’s about discovering intrinsic motivation through music — the more intangible things,” Hutchison said.

The Hogg Memorial Auditorium is set to reopen in August as a new performance venue that will serve registered student organizations.

Photo Credit: Julia Bunch | Daily Texan Staff

After decades of performances, debates and exams, the spotlight is a common sight at UT’s Hogg Memorial Auditorium. This fall, the focus is not on the center stage but on the management behind the curtain.

Beginning in August, Hogg Memorial Auditorium will reopen as a new student-run performance venue serving registered student organizations. Opened in 1933 and named after former Texas Governor James Hogg, the auditorium was previously used as a performing arts venue in the ‘50s and late ‘90s but has since fallen into periods when it was used primarily for classroom purposes, according to the University Unions website. College of Fine Arts Dean Douglas Dempster said reopening has been a joint effort between the Division of Student Affairs and Student Government to rejuvenate Hogg as a student-centered and student-managed venue.

Dempster also said Hogg, which has seating for up to 1,200 people, will be used to support creative student activity that desperately needs facilities and technical support. Students can now reserve the space using the University Unions online reservation system for events held Aug. 29 or later.

“The renovations to Hogg Auditorium are not directed exclusively to the use of College of Fine Arts majors,” Dempster said. “In fact, our thinking here is to make Hogg more available and affordable for the many students and student organizations involved in creative performances as a largely extracurricular activity.”

By deciding to make the venue fundamentally student-run, the Hogg Auditorium will now be part of the University Unions group, which includes the Texas Union, Student Activity Center and Student Events Center and will be financed almost completely by students and alumni. University Unions board member Jesse Hernandez said the auditorium’s renovation and expansion into University Unions is primarily for students and student organizations.

“University Unions has been expanding,” Hernandez said. “The main goal behind that is: how can we better serve students and what other opportunities can we provide students? In recent years, student organizations who have wanted to put on events that require an auditorium of that size have had to look at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School and other such venues, the cost of which sometimes just isn’t in the budget.”

Hernandez said Hogg Memorial Auditorium will be available to students at little to no cost. He said he believes the low reservation cost will increase the types of events open to larger groups of students on campus.

In addition to the many student organizations that plan to reserve the auditorium, Student Government, who has been part of the initiative to renovate the Hogg Auditorium, plans to utilize the space as well. Student Government Vice President Wills Brown said they plan on using Hogg as a gateway to communication and partnership with their fellow students.

“Transparency is key for SG,” Brown said. “Any time there’s an opportunity to have a larger presence on campus, President Thor and I will always be willing to jump at that chance. With a great venue as Hogg now being open to any and all student organizations, I know this will be a great opportunity for SG to partner with a plethora of groups across campus in reference to putting on events.”

Brown said SG has also considered holding town hall meetings in Hogg throughout the semester to get student input on campus issues and take questions and comments.

“Now that this resource is directly for the students by the students, I think many students, staff and faculty across campus will truly understand just how special and useful Hogg really is,” he said.

A new portfolio program announced Thursday will teach graduate students how to manage museums, theaters, libraries and other non-profit cultural organizations.

The Portfolio Program in Arts and Cultural Management and Entrepreneurship, sponsored by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the College of Fine Arts, is currently accepting applications for next semester. The program responds to the growth of non-profits in the U.S. in the past 25 years, said College of Fine Arts Dean Douglas Dempster.

“More and more students are finding employment opportunities in the non-profit sector, but that’s especially true in the arts,” Dempster said. “More municipalities, city governments are recognizing the importance of the arts and cultural activity to their regional economy and to tourism.”

Dempster said the program will prepare students for arts administration careers in a new way.

“Many of them found their way into arts administration and management, or even starting their own commercial businesses, without any training or education in that,” he said. “They had to teach themselves.”

Program Director Francie Ostrower said 33 faculty from 10 departments will teach in the program. Students in the program will take four of 41 approved courses, do 40 hours of work and participate in an annual training session and a student presentation event.

“These requirements are key to achieving the program goal of providing students with practical skills and hands-on training and experience,” Ostrower said in an email.

Printed on Monday, August 8, 2011 as: Student, teacher workshop preserves Texas folk stories

University budget cuts during the next school year will most likely reduce the number of adjunct faculty and teaching assistants in the College of Fine Arts, leading to larger classes, said Fine Arts Council President Adam Hagerman.

The Fine Arts Council hosted a public forum Wednesday attended by about 45 people to educate students on how University-wide budget cuts would impact the college.

College of Fine Arts Dean Douglas Dempster said the University faces a 10-percent budget cut of $33 million. However, the Texas Legislature proposed an initial budget cut in January of nearly 30 percent, or about $100 million.

“My personal speculation on this is that the 10-percent cut that we’re expecting right now is the best case scenario,” he said.

Hagerman, a music and European studies senior, said larger classes will reduce educational quality, particularly in fine arts.

“We’re a very individually based education system, whether it be the art studios or music private lessons or the smaller theater classes,” he said.

Most of the $1.1 million cut to the College came from cuts to stipends paid to graduate teaching assistants and faculty travel and research expenses, Hagerman said. The instructional budgets for academic departments will be cut 4 percent. Hagerman said elective courses for non-majors could be the first to be cut.

“I think students enjoy taking those classes,” he said. “I think they’re beneficial to their overall education, and I think it’s critical to their development as human beings.”

Butler School of Music director B. Glenn Chandler said he is concerned with the expected $50,000 cut to graduate assistantships in his department in next year’s budget.

“It not only affects our ability to deliver good curriculum but also our ability to attract good students,” he said.

Brant Pope, chair of the Theatre and Dance Department, said the University provost and Dempster initiated a program to help fund graduate students to teach non-major courses in the department so they wouldn’t be eliminated.

“When we’re up against the wall, we’re going to serve our majors first,” he said. “If we can’t staff our majors courses, how are we possibly going to staff these?”

Jazz performance and government junior Julian Dominguez came to the event to give information on the college’s budget as the Fine Arts Council’s representative for the Senate of College Councils. He said he has already seen the impact of budget cuts.

“I’ve already heard from peers about their professors that they studied closely with being gone and kind of being at a loss for next year,” he said. “I can definitely see the impacts — negative impacts — but I don’t feel the administration can do much more.”