October 21, 2010

Letter to the Editor: CAA changes misplace priorities

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To the Editor:

Re: “Profs Outraged by Cornell Council of the Arts Overhaul” News, Oct. 20

Although the proposed restructuring of the Cornell Council for the Arts might bring a big name to campus once a year, it thwarts a solid source of support, both fiscally and intellectually, for the education of young artists.

The plan startlingly states that the current grants are “too small to enable work of significant scale and ambition.” Lines like these make degrading assumptions and send a number of disconcerting messages, including:

•  Good art can not be done cheaply

•  The amount of money granted would not actually impact a student’s finances

•  Cornell students are not worthy of being recognized by an official, grant-giving organization, no matter its size

•  The current faculty employed by, and student groups recognized by, Cornell are not worth anyone’s time, attention or money

Should Cornell’s ultimate goal here be to improve its public facade? There are already an overabundance of groups on campus that work to create big ticket events — why are we sacrificing a unique group in order to create another?

During my time at Cornell, I was in the History of Art Majors’ Society. The $2,000 my group received to curate an exhibition at the Johnson went a long way: It not only helped finance the small endeavor, but also encouraged the group, both intellectually and emotionally, to undertake an artistic project. It was a thumbs up from an established group of artists and professors. The actual size of the check was secondary.

I know that members on the advisory committee care about students and surely they must understand the true impact the small grant had on me. I worry that this will now be lost.

In the end, I ask, does the University really want to boost the profile of Cornell in the arts community? Well, then educate great artists.

Sammy Perlmutter ’10, former Sun associate editor