Advancing the arts

Last week, actress and alumna of the College of William and Mary Glenn Close ’74 visited campus during the Arts and Entertainment Festival and spoke to students about her experiences. The star of “Fatal Attraction” and “Damages,” Close’s visit was well received and provided many students in the arts with a unique opportunity to connect with one of the College’s most famous alumni. Without the Arts and Entertainment Council — the College’s first industry-based alumni group — this experience would not have been possible. Hopefully this success leads to visits by other prominent alumni, collaboration between the Arts and Entertainment Council and Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Career Center and the creation of future industry-based alumni groups for other fields.

The Arts and Entertainment Council has attracted several alumni in the arts including Sara Schaefer, a comedian and writer who currently hosts a show on MTV, and Ashley Miller, a screenwriter for “Thor” and “X-Men: First Class.” While holding events for students and prominent alumni is helpful, the Arts and Entertainment Council could expand its efforts to include networking with many of those alumni. The Arts and Entertainment Council provided literary and cultural studies majors the excellent chance to have lunch with Close. Continuing to arrange such events would provide more opportunities to students and alumni to connect, allowing students to gain knowledge and build valuable relationships with successful graduates of the College.

This will hopefully lead to a fruitful cooperation between the Arts and Entertainment Council and the Career Center. The two could work together to expand options for arts students, who may be limited by the lack of viable career choices and the Career Center’s primary focus on other non-arts-related fields. The strength of the Career Center’s resources combined with the untapped networking potential of the Arts and Entertainment Council could be extremely beneficial for arts students.

In addition to helping students and alumni come together, the Arts and Entertainment Council could become an advocate for arts programs and buildings, specifically, the unfinished plan to update arts facilities. While the Board of Visitors originally hoped to fund the construction of an integrated arts complex, the $350 million price tag prevented it from doing so. The Board has since decided on a piecemeal approach that could benefit from student/alumni input. The resulting facility could be a source of pride not just for arts students, but also for the whole campus community. It could also attract talented prospective students and funding from alumni who see that the College places value on the arts.

The success of the Arts and Entertainment Council should encourage the establishment of industry-based alumni groups in other areas of study. The creation of such groups could expose students to interesting research done in the social and physical sciences by alumni not working at the College. This could give alumni the chance to showcase their work, and afford students the opportunity to see how their interests and aspirations could produce real-world effects.

The College’s first industry-based alumni group is to be commended not only for getting a terrific actress to visit campus, but also for creating the potential for lasting and productive student-alumni relationships. The Arts and Entertainment Council can do great things, and the College should look forward to its continued success.


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