Too much oversight harms the arts

Committees threaten creative freedom.

Courtesy photo,

Like anyone else who has been majoring in something for three years, I’m honestly kind of sick of what I’m doing.

Despite this, I am still incredibly passionate about theater and art in all of its various forms.

But recently with the cancellation of a Final Friday installment due to a “controversial” topic, and plans for a board of decision makers to approve future displays, I have become increasingly worried for the safety of the Newman Art departments.

What if something similar were to happen within the theater department?

My fear for the future is similar to that of Dr. Mary Werner’s for her department: that future boards will be made up of a singular viewpoint.

Currently, production choices are made and voted on by a diverse group of students and professors. This system works well because it allows for a variety of voices to be heard.

Having a new committee make all the decisions would be wildly detrimental on multiple levels. 

It is harmful on a university level because it is, in all honesty, an abuse of power.

Universities have a responsibility to the students that pay to attend them to provide the best possible education. That cannot happen if they are not allowed exposure to diverse voices and perspectives.

But it is also harmful on an artistic level.

Besides entertainment, art’s main purpose is to help its audience develop a deeper sense of empathy. Art exposes people to the reality of what it’s like to live as another human being, and develop a name, a face and a life to any particular issue, often social, always imperative.

In a world riddled by hate and social injustice, at the very center of it all is a lack of an ability to understand.

This issue is not just a university one but a global one.

Newman has made great strides in the past year in the ways of acceptance, but we still have a ways to go.

We do not need any more steps back.

Though I understand that neither the theater department nor the art department are separate entities, I do not understand how any of their past productions have gone against anything in the Newman mission statement or anything else that this university is supposed to stand for.

There is enough misdirection in our government, we must do our best to keep it from seeping into our independent institutions as well.

This story first appeared in the April 5, 2018 issue of The Vantage.

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