Baruch College Named Creative Campus Semi-Finalist

Project to Explore Mixed Cultural Identities

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Baruch College has been named a semi-finalist in the national 2010 Creative Campus Innovation Grants competition. Baruch’s entry, Performing Diaspora: Identities in Motion, jointly conceived and led by Weissman Dean Jeffrey Peck and John Malatesta, director of the Baruch Performing Arts Center (BPAC), is one of 31 projects selected from a field of 150 applicants. The Creative Campus competition is an initiative of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), the national service organization for the field of arts presenting. Members range from the nation’s leading performance arts centers to university performance facilities, festivals, and individual artists. The Doris Duke Foundation has provided funding for the Creative Campus competition.

With themes that encompass diversity, diaspora and cultural identity, the project seems a perfect fit for a college known for its extraordinary ethnic and linguistic variety and long history of educating immigrants.

A key goal of the proposed project is integrating BPAC and its many artistic programs more fully into the College’s curriculum. To accomplish this, the project will explore the work of performing artists in the U.S. whose identities and artistic expressions have their roots in other cultures. How do these uniquely American hybrid identities shape artistic traditions? How do American audiences absorb and react to performances that derive from New York’s diaspora communities?

Expressing his enthusiasm for the Performing Diaspora project and excitement at being chosen as a semi-finalist, Dean Peck noted that "This is a wonderful project, with great potential for enriching the educational experiences of all Baruch students." Being named a semi-finalist comes with a grant of $7000, which will be used to develop project concepts more fully and engage members of the Baruch College community. By August 2010, when up to ten winners will be announced, Baruch expects to have scheduled a slate of campus-wide events and performances that promote teaching, discussion and self-awareness around the project’s main themes.

Two external artist partners whose works "perform diaspora" have already been selected. The two are performance artist Maya Lilly, who will present MIXED, which tells the stories of multi-racial and multi-ethnic individuals, and pianist Randy Weston, who will present performances and lectures on the connections between jazz and the ancestral spirits of the African continent. Both artists will involve students in the creative process as they explore themes like "home," "mother country," and, "Who do you think you are?"

BPAC and the Weissman School plan to work especially closely with the Freshman Seminars, Freshman Orientation, the Freshman Text and Learning Communities. Baruch students, faculty, and staff interested in participating in project planning are urged to contact Barbara Wells in the Weissman Dean’s Office: Barbara.Wells@baruch.cuny.edu.