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Art in action

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The revitalized Northeastern Center for the Arts has an expanded interdisciplinary mission, new leadership, and even stronger campus and community connections. We sat down with director BREE EDWARDS to talk about the center’s history, unique interdisciplinary focus, and engagement with students on and off campus.


WHAT IS THE HISTORY AND MISSION OF THE NORTHEASTERN CENTER FOR THE ARTS?

The Northeastern Center for the Arts has organized public events in the performing arts for the university and local community since 1993. In 2010, the center became part of the newly-formed College of Arts, Media and Design, which strengthened our connection to CAMD faculty and students.

If I were to give a short description of the center at this moment, I would say that we are energetic and collaborative. I consider the center to be the front door of the college, providing the entire campus access to the work we are passionate about. The center also brings world-class artists, writers, and performers to the Northeastern campus, giving all students direct access to the world’s most fascinating thinkers, makers, and intellectual leaders.

HOW DOES THE CENTER ENGAGE WITH STUDENTS?

In addition to presenting a very full season of public programs, including concerts, performances, public readings with authors, and artist talks, the center creates a sense of community, a hub, and a gathering place for our students.

From day one the center’s collaborative ethos also has involved getting out into the city of Boston and working with our neighbors in the communities surrounding the Northeastern campus. We have fostered collaborative relationships with other cultural organizations in Boston, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Boston Center for the Arts; and Artists for Humanity. And these relationships are a wonderful resource for students interested in pursuing a co-op in the arts.

We also work very closely with our college’s Creative Leaders, curating programs that give them direct access to the guest artists we bring to campus. In fall 2013 Creative Leaders had a lunchtime conversation with Doris Duke Award-winning artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT OF THE CENTER’S INTERDISCIPLINARY FOCUS?

This interdisciplinary focus is what makes our center truly distinct among university arts centers. In addition to presenting traditional performing and visual art in Northeastern’s Fenway Center, Blackman Auditorium, and Gallery 360, our programming highlights the ways in which the arts are engaged in productive dialogue with other disciplines such as journalism, political science, history, urban planning, law, and the sciences.

While I am all for art that hangs on gallery walls, I am also an advocate for art that causes a shift in perception and changes the way we inhabit the world. Art is a means of tapping into creative power, and creativity is a means of problem-solving. Ultimately, creativity becomes a way to have greater agency in the world. The center expresses this agency by presenting “art in action.”

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For the full calendar of Northeastern Center for the Arts events, visit northeastern.edu/camd/cfa