On Artists and Inclusion

October 25 2017

By Dean John W. Scheib

In an environment where creativity is the currency, being different is of great value.

At the University of Utah College of Fine Arts, individuality is part and parcel to success. The ability to think unlike others is celebrated, the ability to communicate in ways that cross cultural boundaries is nurtured, and the ability to reflect even the less refined parts of our humanity is recognized as beautiful.

At our core, we deeply respect diversity.

Yet, on this campus, like many campuses across this nation, we find ourselves fraught with opportunity (need) to reiterate our commitment to inclusivity. And we’ll take every chance we get, because showing up every day to risk failure in the journey toward personal growth requires extraordinary courage – courage that we’d rather not be expended on the pursuit of personal safety or respect. Those, we hope, are innate and assumed here.

While we recognize that some of the greatest art comes from the expressions of devastation and heartbreak, we also know that senses of safety and belonging are paramount to fostering spaces where people feel secure enough to explore and create.

We have said before that All Are Welcome Here, and I’d like to reiterate it again. I acknowledge that none of us is perfect in this endeavor (and welcome the feedback when we’re not fully successful), and promise that the goal of nurturing and increasing the diversity in our classrooms, studios, theatres, halls and galleries will be among our top priorities as we embark on the College’s new strategic plan.

Authentic inclusivity is an art, and we look forward to mastering it with you.