Displaying items by tag: research

Each year, many fine arts students immerse themselves in exciting research, leaving a mark on their disciplines.
The College of Fine Arts is excited to celebrate the exciting work of two finalists for Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher 2022.

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Brynn Staker St. Clair collaborated with Dr. Elizabeth Craft in the musicology department in the U School of Music on her research on early American musical theatre. Staker catalogued and organized clips from Illinois newspapers that provided much-needed information on George M. Cohan and early American musical theater, as well as examined Utah newspapers from Cohan's time to better understand his national reach. She presented the research findings alongside Dr. Craft at "Fridays with Faculty." Staker was also employed by the University of Utah History Project, working to build a comprehensive history of the School of Music, spending signifiant library hours cataloguing programs and other historical university resources. 

In Their Own Words

"I began my research because I took a class from Dr. Elizabeth Craft. I discovered a fascination with American music. It’s always been my favorite to sing, as I consider myself a poetry nerd. Dr. Craft talked about the book she was writing, and that immediately caught my attention. I credit her with inspiring my interest in research. 

This semester I have expanded my research to focus on local performances. I have loved familiarizing myself with Utah performance history: the significant players, the vast appreciation, and the general response. I feel like this branch of my research has helped me connect very personally with the material. 

My research last semester was all about race in American musical theater. This was a fascinating project for me and allowed me to look more deeply at the prejudices embedded in the performances this country has come to love. It certainly taught me to look closer and to examine art through different perspectives."


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Serena Collins saw her original, full-length play entitled "Sympathizer" through all of its writing and production stages over the span of nearly two years and four academic semesters. Her research culminated in an off-campus production of the play, as well as a staged reading on campus as part of the Department of Theatre's New Plays Workshop, April 25-27 at PAB 115. 

"Sympathizer" centers around main character Calla, who finds herself in uncharted territory when her oldest and closest friend does something bad. With strong opinions on all sides, Calla tries to figure out what is right in the #metoo era. The script lives in the aftermath of sexual assault and begs the question, how do we begin to heal?

In Their Own Words

"One of my favorite discoveries came from an audience member at the production of "Sympathizer." They were a [sexual assault] survivor themselves and after the performance we had a long conversation about the difficulty of a survivor seeing their perpetrator go on to live a normal life. In that conversation, I realized an important nuance that the script was missing. I realized that, as important as it was to highlight empathy as an agent of change, it was equally important to validate the fact that no one owes a perpetrator a second chance. Full stop. That conversation added a whole scene to the current draft of the script!

When I started thinking about these issues, I was afraid to share my questions and thoughts with the people in my life because it was taboo to question the logic of my political group.  Questioning meant disloyalty—it was equated to being what my peer group called an “abuser sympathizer.” Now, I am less afraid of social repercussions because I feel so passionate about the conclusions that my research has brought me—human beings are complicated. Shame doesn’t work. Empathy does. 

Professors in the Actor Training Program would often ask us to identify our artistic voices by asking ourselves the question: 'as an artist, what do you need to say?' Through my research, I have found my artistic voice. What I believe I have to offer to the world is my passion about and belief in the power of empathy."

Published in Finer Points Blog

The College of Fine Arts is delighted to present the 2022 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher award to Comstock from the Department of Art & Art History.

In 2015, The Office of Undergraduate Research established the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award to recognize an outstanding undergraduate researcher from each college. Faculty mentors are invited to nominate students, and awardees are selected by committee. The criteria for the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award include: a record of sustained commitment to developing research skills and knowledge under the supervision of a faculty mentor, evidence of independent and critical thinking, active participation in research-related activities on campus, and positive contributions to the research culture of the department, college, and university.

Comstock’s impressive accomplishments as an undergraduate researcher in the College of Fine Arts center around a commitment to creation of a body of work investigating applications of new materialism to contemporary ceramics.

In Comstock’s personal statement, they write about the impact research has had on their work as an artist, “As I was collecting my ideas and scholarly research in my thesis, every new piece I generated picked up a conceptual thread and grew upon it. I’ve found increased independence moving through my degree as a result, finding an ever-increasing clarity around a theoretical cache that all my work pulls from regardless of medium…. Everything has all become fodder within a holistic and immersive creative research process.”

Comstock presented their research titled “A Balmy Elsewhere: Manifesto for Restorative Materialism” at the 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium, and is submitting their Honors thesis in full to the Undergraduate Research Journal. Their work will also be exhibited Friday, April 22, 2022 at Studio Elevn in Salt Lake City. This summer, with support from the College of Fine Arts Dean’s Travel Fund, Comstock will present a performance piece in Berlin, Germany with artist collective Aktionskunst Park Gruppe.

In Their Own Words

Name: E.C. Comstock
Pronouns: Any Pronoun
Majors and minors: Art--Ceramics emphasis, Sculpture minor, Honors
Hometown: Boise, ID
Three words that describe you: amorphous, inquisitive, fraught
Most impactful class or professor: The most impactful class I had was Ceramic Surfaces, the level of experimentation Brian Snapp encouraged in Surfaces hugely expanded my practice and entirely shifted my approach to a far more holistic conception of form and surface. This class also introduced me to Skin: Surface, Substance + Design by Ellen Lupton which became a vital text in my thesis, and served as a formative period of bonding with my clay cohort.
A CFA moment you’ll never forget: I will never forget my first wood-firing, which was the first time I felt like I was part of something larger than myself in my program. The exchange and passing down of technical knowledge is so visible and tangible during the two-day long firing, and the sharing of food and music cements the community building that occurs while firing. 
What inspires you: I'm inspired by fringes and edges, the generative friction found when rich, differing substances meet one another or theoretical and practical approaches butt up. Bringing a lens of relational aesthetics to my everyday life has been a major source of inspiration, considering every action I make an art action and every material I handle a potential collaborator.
Summary of major accomplishments on or off campus: Outstanding Sculpture Student nomination, International Sculpture Center; Eccles Scholar (received Eccles full tuition scholarship through Honors College); Emma Eccles Jones Fine Arts Housing Scholarship, exhibited in Paper and Clay juried exhibition at Utah State University, Statewide Annual at the Rio Gallery, Aktionskunst Park Gruppe in Berlin, Germany; received Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program funding and a Small Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research. 

"As I was collecting my ideas and scholarly research in my thesis, every new piece I generated picked up a conceptual thread and grew upon it. I’ve found increased independence moving through my degree as a result, finding an ever-increasing clarity around a theoretical cache that all my work pulls from regardless of medium…. Everything has all become fodder within a holistic and immersive creative research process."

Published in Finer Points Blog

The University of Utah's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) gives undergraduate students and faculty mentors the opportunity to work together on research or creative projects. The program provides a stipend and educational programming for students who assist with a faculty member’s research or creative project or who carry out a project of their own under the supervision of a faculty member. Students may apply for UROP any semester and may be eligible for a one-semester renewal. UROP awardees are hired as temporary, part-time UROP Participants by the Office of Undergraduate Research and are paid $1,200 for 120 hours of research or creative work during the semester.

This fall, three College of Fine Arts students were awarded funding and are now hard at work on their research projects.

Here’s what they’re up to:

Abigail Raasch, School of Dance
Faculty Mentor: Natalie Desch

“As a major in the Modern Dance Program, I intend to research the effect of collaborative experiences for students from both departments. Through a series of movement labs, interviews, rehearsals, and a culminating performance. This project will provide insight into the educational effects of collaboration with embodied movement techniques towards theatrical communications. The result will be a joint directorship producing a movement-based piece to help present my final thesis through the power of movement.”  

“The effects of this project will continue beyond a final climactic performance. I believe this research will demonstrate to participants who create as well as who observe the work that movement collaboration has potent results and therefore carries much value.”

Ashley Goodwin, Department of Theatre
Faculty Mentor: Alexandra Harbold

Ashley's ultimate goal is to create "The Not Broken Monologues," a theatre piece that weaves together her own experiences, her research into inclusive education and theatre practices, and her interviews with people with disabilities. She began developing the project idea as her final project in Beginning Directing Spring 2019.  

“In a broader sense, I am earning my Theatre Teaching BFA because I not only want to teach theatre in a school setting, but I also hope to work on youth outreach programs. I want to bring theatre to at-risk youth as an invaluable therapeutic resource. When working in the public school system, I want my theatre program to be accessible to students from all backgrounds. Rather than sidelining students with disabilities, I believe they can play an integral, dynamic role in the creation of meaningful theatre. I want to be a part of the generation of educators that proves that we are able to do better for the sake of our disabled and otherwise marginalized students.”

Alan Chavez, School of Music
Faculty Mentor: Elizabeth T. Craft

Alan will be researching the history of the U’s School of Music (department est. 1888), specifically, as Alan put it in his UROP application, “how it fostered musical and artistic growth in the state and via exchange with other U.S. and European artists.” He is focusing on collecting information from the Utah Daily Chronicle and other digitized newspapers, and mapping timelines of significant events and developments.  This is a group endeavor: Alan is collaborating with a team of School of Music researchers, headed by Professor Emeritus of Musicology Roger Miller.

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Emeri Fetzer 

Where do you access a majority of your movie and television content these days?

If you answered “Netflix,” “Hulu,” “HBO” or “Amazon,” it comes as no surprise.

Streaming services have come into our homes to stay, now a part of our daily routines (hello, quarantine!). All you had to do was be witness to the collective buzz around Netflix’s “Tiger King” a few months ago to realize that we all may be exposed to similar recommendations on our devices. Instead of heading to the RedBox and picking out a rental, quite unique to our current moods and taste, streaming services put “most watched” choices right in front of us for our convenience. And, more often than not, we click play.

These nearly seamless methods of distributing film content are handy for consumers, certainly. And the public has access to perhaps more diverse options than ever before. 

But how will current trends in online streaming affect the film industry going forward, specifically when it comes to independent cinema? Will lines continue to blur between what is Hollywood and what is “Indie?” Will films that don’t end up landing on the home screen of our streaming services see their moment of notoriety?

How do we find films differently through algorithms instead of recommendations from our friends? How do we watch them differently since we are often watching them on our cell phones and our iPods & iPads instead of at the theatre? I have been chronicling these changes over time.”

This convergence of culture, the digital era, and the history of contemporary American independent cinema, fascinates Sarah Sinwell, assistant professor in the University of Utah Department of Film & Media Arts. In her new book, “Indie Cinema Online,” Sinwell examines the ways in which modes of production, distribution, and exhibition are shifting with the advent of online streaming, simultaneous release strategies, and web series. Looking deep into the most popular streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Amazon, she analyzes how the ways we access our content may continue to redefine an entire genre of cinema.

“My book is essentially how and why certain films are available on online streaming services and how we watch films differently on those services. How do we find films differently through algorithms instead of recommendations from our friends? How do we watch them differently since we are often watching them on our cell phones and our iPods & iPads instead of at the theatre? I have been chronicling these changes over time,” Sinwell explained.

Even as Sinwell was finishing the book, new developments were rolling in. Netflix experienced a rapid rise in viewers due to the pandemic. Amazon is becoming more of an active player in streaming, establishing their own production company in the last year. And NBC Universal’s new service “Peacock” is just coming into the game, trying to find its own edge on the market. Needless to say, this conversation is ever-evolving—much like our habit to click “Yes, I am still watching.”

Streaming services hold a wealth of interesting films, documentaries and series of all genres, but you may have to have a strategy if you want something outside your home feed. For those with particular interest in indie cinema, you may want to go on a hunt. And even then, you might not find exactly what you are looking for.

“Most people are still using Netflix as their primary streaming service, and then after that is Hulu and Amazon. There are streaming services that are much more specific to your interests, for example Shudder for horror films, or some specifically for anime…” Sinwell said. “One thing worth noting is that for something like Netflix or Hulu, it’s the algorithm that is determining what is most readily available to you on your feed. We have to think about how we can do a deeper dive, like if you are looking for a famous director for example. One of my favorite directors is John Sayles. Up until recently, most of his films were not available on streaming. Now a few are available on Amazon Prime including 'City of Hope.' But if you wanted to find John Sayles entire catalog, you would mostly have to search for DVDs.” 

Sinwell loves to discover film through this method of exploring one director’s entire body of work, even down to the shorts. She is an avid supporter of local archives at Tower Theatre and Salt Lake Film Society. She also suggests that film lovers follow trade journals, where they may uncover films not as widely available.

“Trade journals like Variety, Hollywood Reporter, and Indie Wire update audiences on what is playing at film festivals, things you might not have heard of that aren’t on your streaming sites. At Sundance these days, I would say only about a quarter of the films that I go to see will be available later, or even come to my theater. Most of the time you have to hope they get distribution or actively seek them out. The trade journals cover where films are coming out in other forms, and may introduce you to new things.”sarah

Beyond entertainment, the dominance of streaming service is influencing Sinwell’s plans for teaching, specifically regarding questions around representation in film. A discussion made even more relevant by recent events surrounding civil rights and social justice. 

“I’m designing my courses for fall and realizing we typically use DVD’s in our teaching. But if we are teaching online classes, we can’t use those DVD’s. It’s a really different world if you can only use streaming services,” she explained. “I’m also trying to think about representation. I’ve been talking to some students over the summer who are really interested in looking at representation of women, African Americans, people of color, people with disabilities...I think there are multiple ways that can happen. There are some really wonderful documentaries. I saw one at Sundance that is actually now available on Netflix called “Disclosure.” The film shows a history of how trans representation has functioned since the beginning of cinema -- from the classical Hollywood era to contemporary cinema. I think this is really interesting for students to think about. If you were an upcoming filmmaker, how would you approach that topic? If you had a chance to see clips or interviews with trans actors and actresses, how would you define these categories differently if you had a chance to see how they had been represented over time?” 

Sinwell encourages students to examine the history of cinema to find possibilities for how they can guide its future. “There are multiple ways of changing representation, whether it is through how you treat narrative, casting, or genre,” she said.

Even as “Indie Cinema Online” hits the shelves of film enthusiasts, Sinwell is moving on to her next investigation: how independent cinema intertwines with independent television. (Think “Orange is the New Black”, “Transparent,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “House of Cards"…)

“A lot of people, when they watch a series on Netflix, will say “I saw that movie” when it is actually a series. But on Netflix, they don’t always separate those two things. The difference between film and television is blurring in the same way independent and Hollywood did.”

This year, she’ll be busy on a new book following this new twist in genre convergence.
But read this one first. 
Get your copy of "Indie Cinema Online" here! 

Published in Finer Points Blog

Research from two University of Utah College of Fine Arts undergraduate students was recently published in the university's 2020 Undergraduate Research Journal. The Undergraduate Research Journal collects and celebrates the contributions our undergraduate students from all over campus make to scholarship in their fields.

Sydney Porter Williams from the Department of Art & Art History focused her research on the outcomes and benefits of a collaborative mural project in Murray, while Amelie Bennett from the School of Dance examined the role of dance therapy in improving empathy and emotion recognition in non-clinical adults and children. 

We encourage you to learn more about these important student projects, as well as discover the work of many other undergraduate researchers from across campus disciplines! 


THE MURRAY MURALS PROJECT: CONNECTING LIVES ON CANVAS -- Sydney Porter Williams, Department of Art & Art History
Faculty Mentor: V. Kim Martinez

"The Murray Murals Project is a collaborative effort between University of Utah art students and thousands of Murray youth and community members. These groups worked collaboratively over the course of the fall 2018 semester to create community-engaged, portable murals for nine Murray elementary schools. These murals now hang in the halls of these schools, giving students ownership of their artwork and of their communities." 

Faculty Mentor: Kate Mattingly

"This work examines the commonly accepted notion of dance/movement therapy that mirroring another person’s movement will increase both participants’ levels of empathy. Mirroring involves a participant creating expressive dance; in a therapeutic setting, the therapist mirrors their movements to establish a relationship and gain insight into their physical and emotional experience."



Published in Finer Points Blog

What obstacles get in the way of racial equity in academic settings?
• How do we honor dance forms in our curriculum that are not represented within the identities of faculty?
• How do we dismantle the hierarchies embedded in the teaching of histories and theories of dance?
• What does it look/feel like to have racial equity in dance?
• What does the future look like? What steps can we take? 

This week, the U School of Dance will gather with our community of artists and educators, as well as speakers Gerald Casel, Rebecca Chaleff, Kimani Fowlin, and Tria Blu Wakpa for “Dancing Around Race,” a four-day immersion in these questions (among others!) and the accompanying practices that challenge and uproot the systemic exclusions whiteness has formed. 

Assistant professor Kate Mattingly started to plan the project after attending the National Dance Education Conference where she presented her paper, “Connecting Dance Histories, Theories, and Criticism.” At the conference, Gerald Casel was also presenting his work, “Dancing Around Race – Interrogating Whiteness in Dance,” in which he brought together curators, critics, artists, and donors in the Bay Area to discuss race and colorblind racial ideology, issues and problems around diversity, and resilience and sustainability.

“Both of our presentations bypassed a typical pedagogical approach of looking at individual dancers who ‘overcome’ barriers, and focused on the systemic exclusions that prevent artists, students, and faculty from gaining access to opportunities,” Mattingly described.

Teaming up with colleague Kimani Fowlin, who was also at the conference, the three began to shape a program bringing these vital dialogues back to the University of Utah. They wanted to make a dedicated space to “address and challenge systemic exclusions in curricular design, teaching practices, and course contents.”

Tria Blu Wakpa and Rebecca Chaleff, who had both been panelists with Mattingly at a recent Dance Studies Association conference in Malta, were also clear choices for such a panel. In Malta, Blu Wakpa, Chaleff and Mattingly had focused their discussion on whiteness, settler colonialism, and injustices of recognition.

Along with Maile Arvin and Erika George, two scholars invested in research and teaching that calls attention to systemic exclusions and healing practices, Mattingly clarified key intentions for the program at the U, specifically in connecting students and faculty.

Among these goals, of which there are understandably many, the organizers hope to start building long-term and sustainable practices that redistribute unequal power dynamics, work to dismantle barriers in access in both course materials and curricula, foreground the importance of decolonizing methodologies, and positively engage students and faculty in practices of healing and self-care.

Increasing equity and access is already an active focus within the School of Dance, as evidenced by ongoing faculty- and student-led efforts. “Since I arrived at the University of Utah in July of 2017, I have admired the investment and insights of students in the ballet program who are addressing and challenging systemic exclusions,” Mattingly said. 

For example, the Dance Studies Working Group, formed in January of 2018, traveled to San Francisco for talks and performances at the Unbound Festival and Boundless Symposium. (Read about their experience here!) Victoria Holmes, the founder of this group, won the CFA 2019 College of Fine Arts Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher award. Her thesis called attention to barriers and challenges faced by dancers of color, historically and currently.

“Dancing Around Race” is an opportunity to identify other ways to take positive action. “One of the ongoing challenges of this work is that people in positions of power are disinclined to change systems that bring them benefits, and what I see in the students at the U is that future generations of leaders are dedicated to asking hard questions and calling attention to oppressive environments,” Mattingly said. 

“Dancing Around Race: Whiteness in Higher Education” Public Events:

January 16 Panel Discussion
With guests Gerald Casel, Rebecca Chaleff, Tria Blu Wakpa, and Kimani Fowlin moderated by Kate Mattingly
12:25 - 1:45pm in the Marriott Center for Dance Theater

January 17 Panel Discussion “Decolonizing Methodologies”
With Guests Maile Arvin, Tria Blu Wakpa, and Charles Sepulveda
2 - 3:20pm in Gardner Commons 5490

This project has been supported by a Dee Grant from the University of Utah.

Published in Finer Points Blog

How do we effectively create inclusive arts integrated learning spaces for all students?

On Tuesday, January 14th at the Arts Education Research Symposium, the College of Fine Arts alongside principals, district leaders, and community arts colleagues, will tackle this very question. The goal? To network, share research, prompt discussion, and forge partnerships in an effort to continually create environments in school where all learners are included and can thrive. 

As Kelby McIntyre-Martinez, Assistant Dean for Arts Education & Community Engagement, explained: “The inclusive arts landscape has drastically changed over the last decade, and so has our K-12 student body. As we work towards creating educational spaces that truly include all learners, it is vital that our educational systems and teacher preparation programs implement relevant methodologies that are innovative, mutually beneficial, and celebrate each child’s abilities and unique contributions.”

The Arts Education Research Symposium will include a short, interactive STEAM performance and movement workshop led by the Deaf Children’s Theatre Touring Company, Sunshine 2.0, from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Following, local administrators and Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program specialists will share best inclusive practices.  Speakers will include: principal Lori Reynolds and specialist Jonathan Hale from Sprucewood Elementary in Canyons School District, principal Ann Kane and specialist Rachel Lankford from Mill Creek Elementary in Granite School District, and elementary teaching and learning director Melissa Hamilton of Murray School District. These leaders will present arts inclusion research projects that have seen incredible results within their own schools and districts.  

Research has shown participation in educational inclusive arts programs contributes to individuals’ skill development, which in turn can lead to confidence building as well as increased social and academic participation (Hillier, Greher, Poto, & Dougherty, 2012). Knowing this, how might we better prepare arts educators to adapt, differentiate and modify instruction across the arts more effectively?

“This past academic year, school administrators, in partnership with the College of Fine Arts, identified that inclusive art making and the sharing of best practices across the region was a top priority,” McIntrye-Martinez explained. “The Arts Education Research Symposium is specifically designed to address the interests and needs of our partner school districts.”  

Join us in this inspiring opportunity to connect and create. 

Arts Education Research Symposium: Inclusion Through the Arts
Tuesday, January 14th at 8:45 am – 12:45 pm (light breakfast & lunch provided)
Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts and Education Complex at 1721 Campus Center Drive  

Published in Finer Points Blog

On October 14th, the Arts-In-Health Innovation Lab will host the 2019 Arts-In-Health Symposium at the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts and Education complex on the University of Utah’s campus. This exciting afternoon will incorporate keynote addresses by nationally recognized leaders presenting the latest research at the intersection of the arts and health fields.

Featured Speakers will include:
Jill Sonke, Director
Center for Arts in Medicine, University of Florida
"Advancing Arts in Health: Why Research Matters"

Lori Gooding, PhD, MT-BC
College of Music, Florida State University
“Connecting Psychosocial Care, Music Therapy & Music Therapy Education”

Debra Burns, PhD, MT-BC
“Music Therapy and Cancer: Focus on Evidence, Next Steps and Transdisciplinary Collaborations”  

Besides its established national significance, the research of these three leaders parallels many groundbreaking initiatives already in practice within the University. For example, the U’s Resiliency Center invests in addressing burnout in health professions, which aligns with Lori Gooding’s research on the phenomenon of burnout amongst clinical music therapists. Debra Burns’ research in cancer and music therapy is reflected in arts therapy initiatives at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the Center for Wellness and Integrative Health, under the direction of Shelley White. Jill Sonke’s research continues to confirm the impact of arts on the expanded well-being of communities.

University of Utah professors will participate in lighting round talks sharing their own research in arts in health, including: Jared Rawlings on “Music Education and Bullying,” Eric Handman on “Virtual Reality Choreography and Autism,” Shelley White on “Group Drumming and Cancer Care,” and Gretchen Case and Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell on “Theatre Techniques and Medical Students.”

Associate Dean for Research and Associate Professor of Theatre Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell hopes this year’s symposium will not only raise visibility of the Arts-In-Health Innovation Lab as a collaborative hub for members of the University community, but also encourage complex interdisciplinary work across different fields of research. 

“The Symposium provides an opportunity for us to come together as a community to share and exchange ideas about research in this increasingly important field,” Cheek-O’Donnell explains. “We hope that this symposium will offer faculty, students, and staff at the U, as well as other members of our extended community, a glimpse into the world of rigorous arts in health research happening around the country and on our own campus. Ultimately, we would love to see this catalyze more collaboration among disparate members of the University community in order to begin to address this nation’s health care crisis. The arts are (and have been for centuries) a shadow health service, addressing the social determinants of health in ways that medicine alone cannot.”

Those attending the Symposium will be able to gain a deeper understanding of how research is conducted in the field of arts in health, including specialized methods for answering rising questions. Cheek-O’Donnell suggests, “We hope it will demonstrate what arts in health research has to offer – to the arts community, the health care community, and to the various communities in which we live.”

She adds, “Finally, we hope it offers and opportunity for participants to meet others who are interested in conducting research that will advance the field and—most importantly—contribute to improved health and well-being.”

Who can predict what innovative collaborations will be catalyzed in these very conversations?
Come and be a part of it.

Arts in Health Symposium
October 14th 1-5 pm
Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts and Education Complex RM 1151

Published in Finer Points Blog

Grant from National Endowment for the Arts fuels research where theatre meets patient communication

A group of interdisciplinary researchers from the arts and medicine at the University of Utah is among a select group to receive federal grant money from the National Endowment for the Arts for their work investigating the value and impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and with other domains of American life.

“I believe that a public university exists to improve the lives of the community it serves,” says Michael L. Good, MD, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, CEO of University of Utah Health, and Dean of the School of Medicine. “Fostering a campus culture of collaboration between the arts and health is essential to our success. This generous support from the NEA validates and supports our efforts to expand interdisciplinary research, teaching, clinical care, and community engagement on the important role the arts play in healing, recovery, and wellness.”

These researchers, led by Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell, PhD (College of Fine Arts’ Department of Theatre) and Gretchen Case, PhD, MA, (School of Medicine’s Program in Medical Ethics and Humanities), have developed a unique, theatre-based approach to helping health care providers, trainees, and students develop and practice the skills they need to communicate with patients, families, and care teams, especially when approaching difficult conversations, called Coached Rehearsal Techniques for Interpersonal Communication Skills (CRiTICS).

“The value of the arts on culture has been long understood,” said John W. Scheib, PhD, Associate Vice President for the Arts at the University of Utah and Dean of the College of Fine Arts. “And explorations like these are helping us to understand how artistic practices and creative thinking can have powerful benefits outside of galleries and theatres and in ways that profoundly shape our healing.”

CRiTICS uses professional coaches trained in theatre and performance to guide learners through the rehearsal of a difficult conversation scenario, offering individualized, constructive feedback not only on what a learner says, but also on how they communicate nonverbally. And the funds from National Endowment of the Arts will allow the research team to assess its effectiveness using objective measures in a large-scale, randomized controlled trial. Results of this trial will offer insights for improved assessment of communication skills, which are notoriously difficult to measure productively.

“No one wants to hear bad news and no one wants to give it, either, but health care professionals have to do it every day,” said Cheek-O’Donnell.

“Providers at all levels of training deserve innovative support to communicate effectively and compassionately in challenging medical settings,” said Case.

This project was conceived and planned with the support of Jeffrey R. Botkin, MD, MPH and the Utah Center for Excellence in ELSI Research (UCEER), and the enthusiastic backing of the Department of Theatre, College of Fine Arts, Program in Medical Ethics and Humanities, and the Division of General Internal Medicine.

National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman, Mary Anne Carter, announced 15 awards totaling $724,000 to support research projects that investigate the value and impact of the arts. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to arts.gov.

Published in Finer Points Blog
December 19 2018

External Funding

Faculty pages header graphic4 MollyHeller"Heartland: Studies of the Heart" by Molly Heller (Dance) featuring dancer Troy Martin and "Mirrored Sculpture: Angels & Ancestors III" (2008) by Wendy Wischer (Art & Art History). (Photo: Tori Duhaime)

What Is External Funding?

External funding refers to resources that support faculty and/or graduate student research that come from organizations outside of the University of Utah. These sources may be Federal or State agencies or they may be private foundations. Depending upon the organization and the specific requirements of the grant, funds are available to offset the various “costs” of research—from travel expenses to artist salaries. 

Why Pursue External Funding?

Simply put, external funds can broaden your research horizons and elevate your national and international profile, as well as the University’s. It can be used to buy time, support research assistants, pay collaborators from outside academia, rent space for a performance or exhibition, and more. Finally, external funding often brings additional resources into the University and College beyond the direct funding that is used to support a specific research project. 

Where Do I Find External Funding?

The most high profile and typical funding organizations for arts faculty are the NEA and the NEH, which have fairly consistent funding programs that are available from year to year. However, these are by no means the only sources of external funding out there. Check out the Marriott Library’s Arts & Humanities Funding page, which has links to a wide variety of opportunities, from artist residencies to funding databases. An important database to search (and keep searching) is Funding Institutional (formerly SciVal), which has information on over 20,000 current funding opportunities in the US and 2 million awarded grants. You can also take a look at the Hall Center for the Humanities’ website, which maintains lists of relevant opportunities for artists and arts scholars. Sign up for “Researchers’ Corner,” the newsletter from the Vice President for Research Office, which publicizes opportunities from private foundations as well as limited submission opportunities.

Published in Faculty
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