Marissa Fretes: We don’t have to buy an art school to excel in the arts

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Marissa Fretes

With all the hype surrounding the new Science and Engineering Hall, it’s easy to sometimes forget that the humanities, and especially the fine arts, need some love too.

Last week, the cash-starved Corcoran Gallery of Art announced that it signed an agreement to partner with the University of Maryland, College Park, officially putting an end to talks that GW could link up with the Corcoran College of Art and Design.

The news might seem like a missed opportunity for the University to advance its art departments, but this just isn’t the case. The University should use this as a reason to expand GW’s art programs.

The Diamondback, Maryland’s student-run newspaper, reported that a partnership with the Corcoran could bolster UMD’s art department with a larger course selection and a dual-degree program.

Maryland’s partnership with the Corcoran will undoubtedly be a selling point to prospective students. Given access to exhibitions, art pieces, staff and faculty, this partnership could give Maryland a competitive edge over GW.

To stay relevant in the fine arts, GW must take this as an opportunity to invest in its own art program.

With that said, investing in the arts doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to buy a whole new school.

There are other ways to improve the art program. As it stands, many arts students at GW take classes at the Corcoran, and the administration could look to expand these programs, or build a photojournalism program through courses already offered in the fine arts and journalism departments. While Maryland may have partnered with the Corcoran, GW still lies in an enviable location in the District. After all, the Corcoran is as much a neighbor to GW’s campus as the White House is.

The University has been trying to shift its reputation as a mecca for political junkies and aspiring diplomats toward one that emphasizes undergraduate research, engineering and the arts and humanities.

Most recently, the University invited alumna Kerry Washington to speak at Commencement, signaling a commitment to the arts. And part of the strategic plan even emphasizes renewing a focus on the humanities and the arts.

Obviously, it’s unfortunate that GW’s own talks with the Corcoran, announced back in October, didn’t pan out. But that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. This new development should strike a flame under the University to continue to strengthen ties with the Corcoran in ways that don’t involve expending excessive capital.

The University has stated its desire to put the arts and humanities front and center. And while that’s all well and good, promises must be backed by actions.

Marissa Fretes, a sophomore majoring in English, is a Hatchet columnist.

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