Art at the Heart

An ambitious campaign will position the College of Fine Arts as Boston University’s “inner creative realm.”

By Lara Ehrlich | Photo by Melody Komyerov

Fireworks rained over the ice at Agganis Arena as the Boston University Marching Band brought more than 3,000 alums, students, parents, and guests to their feet, waving light sticks and bellowing along to the Bruce Channel classic, “Hey! Baby.” This was not the conclusion of a Terriers hockey game, but the exultant finale of Celebration of BU. The event on September 22, 2012, highlighted more than a century and a half of triumphs and marked the formal announcement of the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign.

The campaign goal of $1 billion is designed to support research, facility improvements, faculty, and financial aid throughout BU, and a goal this ambitious requires collaboration from the entire University. “BU doesn’t really have a long tradition of getting together as a big group,” says campaign kickoff co-chair and BU Trustee SungEun Han-Andersen (’85). “Our alumni base hasn’t really pulled together before. This is the first time, so it’s a challenge. And an opportunity, of course.”

Alfre Woodard and Michael Chiklis co-emceed the Southern California Campaign Kickoff. Photo by Chris Bacarella

Celebration of BU initiated this spirit of collaboration with a spectacle highlighting the varied talents of students and alums from throughout the University. From the College of Fine Arts, the BU Symphonic Chorus accompanied the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” under the direction of Keith Lockhart (Hon.’04), who invited the School of Music alumni in his orchestra to stand. School of Visual Arts Professor Hugh O’Donnell’s commemorative film, Spirit of Greatness, was projected onto the ice, and School of Theatre Director Jim Petosa performed the voice-over for the campaign film. CFA brought the celebration home with a rainbow of lights along the façade of 855 Commonwealth Avenue.

On the opposite coast, Academy and Grammy Award-nominated actress Alfre Woodard (’74), winner of four Emmy Awards, and Michael Chiklis (’85), winner of a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for his role on The Shield, co-emceed the Southern California Campaign Kickoff on February 6, 2013. This event was one of six kickoff celebrations around the world.

The campaign’s time line is projected to be a seven-year effort, to be completed by summer 2017. To date, CFA has raised 32 percent ($6,459,482.26) of the $20 million that will help strengthen the BU community through the arts. CFA is currently exploring new ways to transform 855 Commonwealth Avenue into a pioneering center for theatre, music, and visual arts that will position the College as the “art at the heart” of BU.

A proposed renovation to the building will “inspire collaboration among students from all of the artistic genres,” says Scott Wilson, the project’s principal architect. CFA aims to create new gathering locations throughout the building, “where you’ll be able to see visual arts as well as theatre and music students practicing and performing.” Upon entering CFA, visitors will experience “an eye-opening moment when they realize they’re being allowed into the University’s inner creative realm.”

To learn more about the campaign, click here.

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