Meadows bridges gap with artistic partnerships across Dallas

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Editor’s Note: Updated May 10, 2016 11:45 p.m. Scroll to the bottom of the article for an interactive map of Meadows’ initiatives in southern Dallas.

Faculty, students and administrators across SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts are collaborating with public schools, nonprofits, and community agencies to bring art, music, dance, even jobs, to people living in low-income areas across Dallas.

The goal is to bridge the gap between the campus and the community and create change, according to the director of SMU’s Arts and Urbanism Initiative, Clyde Valentin.

“Meadows has a lot of programs that dive into the Dallas community, and that have created positive impact through creative means,” said Valentin.

Here are some of them:
Who: Meadows School of the Arts and its Ignite Arts Dallas Initiative

What: Brings artists and performances to south Dallas neighborhoods.

How do they help?

  • Awards the “Meadows Prize,” a $25,000 award and a Dallas residency to two artists. The artists work with SMU students and local arts organizations for one week to create an immersive arts experience.
  • Created a program called P3, that has local artists and SMU students collaborating on four pieces of art to be completed by August 2017. The artworks will be displayed around the city. Includes plans to commission a work of art from a Dallas artist in the spring of 2017.
  • Started The Dallas Arts Project, a program that provides resources to artists in Dallas to complete works, connects students and faculty to artists, and advocates for exporting art to other communities.

“These collaborations bring Dallas artists and creative SMU students together and let them work together and thrive in a creative environment,” said Valentin.

Who: Division of Music

What: Works with voice and piano students through two public school programs.

How do they help?

  • SMU music professor Virginia Dupuy created a 2-hour weekly voice class for elementary students at DISD’s Vanguard Program at Sidney Lanier Expressive Arts Vanguard school.
  • A choir program at David W. Carter High School offers 16 students private voice lessons, and 17 students private piano lessons from SMU grad students.

“I think that any experience in the arts nurtures and strengthens a student in every way. The kids are so open, so disciplined. And the music makes a noticeable difference in the way that they approach the rest of their life,” said Dupuy.

Who: Division of Dance

What: Created a program called “Move” that works with the All Stars Project of Dallas Talent Show Network.

How do they help?

  • SMU dance students help K-12 students from low-income neighborhoods create original works for a talent show that the nonprofit All Stars Project produces. All Stars reaches hundreds of youth by involving them in after-school and weekend programs that teach performance workshops, the process of putting together a talent show, and provides leadership training.

“We help them stage, choreograph, or write their pieces, and in the process we help them find confidence and a voice,” said Alison Machabee, the SMU student leader coordinator between All Stars and the Ignite Arts Dallas program.

Who: Corporate Communication and Public Affairs

What: Dr. Owen Lynch’s communication capstone class works an entire semester developing a communication plan for several area non-profit organizations and businesses.

How do they help?

  • Café Momentum is a restaurant that employs young men who have recently exited juvenile detention. Lynch’s spring 2016 class is writing a research report that analyzes the restaurant’s first year and provides tips for its second year.
  • Under a project called the Jubilee Park Economic Development Plan for Community Assets, the class is cataloging the names of community members and their job skills in a database that employers will then use to find qualified employees.

“It’s really integral to work directly with the community we are doing a project for,” said Bryce Nayden, a member of the class.

Who: Department of Art History

What: Art history professor Janis Bergman-Carton created an art exhibit in Summer of 2015 that traced the roots of Jewish and Mexican immigrants in Dallas in the early 20th century to Uptown, an area formerly called Little Mexico.

How do they help?

  • Bergman-Carton collaborated with the Dallas Mexican American Historical League, the Dallas Jewish Historical Society, and four SMU art history students to create the exhibit Uptown’s Pike Park: Little Jerusalem to Little Mexico, 100 Years of Settlement.

“The larger purpose, however, is the movement to save the 100-year old park that has been an important part of Dallas history from the fate of the rest of the area formerly known as Little Mexico,” said Bergman-Carton. “We are hoping to preserve the park which has been the psychological heart of the Mexican-American community of Dallas for a century.”

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