As the fall semester winds down and 2018 comes to a close, I’m finding myself in a space of reflection and planning for 2019 resolutions. At moments like these, when I make the time to zoom out and think about my life, I am reminded of how integral the arts have been to my growth as a person. When I picked up the flute in fifth grade, I had no idea it was the beginning of a lifelong passion for music that would influence so many of my relationships and experiences for decades.
I take tremendous pride in being a part of Columbia’s incredibly vibrant arts community as a campus arts administrator. I have worked here for nearly 18 years because I love coming to work every day to a place where the arts really matter.
But why do the arts matter?
Creating or witnessing an artistic work, whether it’s music, film, writing, theater, or visual art, can change your life in meaningful and unexpected ways. Through a shared artistic experience, you can connect more deeply with friends and strangers. You can step away from notifications and refreshing social media feeds for just a moment to connect with an offline experience. You become inspired to take more risks. You are reminded to embrace life’s ambiguities.
I vividly remember the first time I heard a live orchestra play. Hearing string instruments in person in a room with other people listening at the same time, was magical. I now feel very lucky that I can choose which musicians will be performing on the Miller Theatre’s stage each year so I can continue to share this transformative experience of hearing live music with thousands of other people.
For me personally, growing up in a working-class household, studying flute taught me not to give up when I faced challenges, (the concept of 6/8 time nearly made me quit in sixth grade!). I was the first person in my family to go to college because playing music gave me the confidence to put myself out there and succeed. The people I have since met in my career have continued to challenge and enrich me every day, from my first job at the Metropolitan Opera to now overseeing incredible creative work at Columbia including the Arts Initiative, Miller Theatre, and the Lenfest Center for the Arts. I am grateful to give back to the world of the arts that has given so much to me. I especially enjoy commissioning living artists to compose new works that will inspire people for generations.
As you reflect on the experiences you have had at Columbia and those you would like to create for yourself in 2019, I invite you to make time to bring a little more art into your life. Here on campus and in New York City, we have such a wealth of opportunities to explore and discover. You could visit a museum, go to a jazz club, find a biography of a great writer at the library, drop into the Artist Society’s free sketch nights, learn to move in new ways at a dance class, or check out the Wallach Art Gallery on campus, just to name a few. And if you need some help figuring out where to start, our Arts Initiative team is here for you—we have a myriad of ways to help you engage with the arts scene at Columbia in New York City.
So as you contemplate your own resolutions for the new year, please join me in making more time for art. You may be surprised where it takes you.
The author is associate dean and executive director at Columbia University School of the Arts, where she leads the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre and serves as a deputy to Dean Carol Becker to oversee the new Lenfest Center for the Arts.
To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.