About Us - Center for the Arts in Society - Carnegie Mellon University

About the Center for the Arts in Society

Our History

The Center for the Arts in Society was founded in spring 2000 with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and additional support from Carnegie Mellon University, the College of Fine Arts and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. In ensuing years further support was provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Eden Hall Foundation, The Pennsylvania Humanities Council, MCAI, the Sprout Fund, and the Faulk Foundation.

Impermanence CoverFrom 2000 through 2007 the Center supported annual postdoctoral and senior residential fellowships, provided a series of undergraduate courses, and established an undergraduate minor in Arts in Society. It sponsored several community programs, including Arts Greenhouse and Take Back the Hill, as well as a small grant program for artists and faculty. It hosted a series of events, including talks and panels, performances, and a conference on the topic of “Impermanence.” Center members and invitees to that conference collaborated in the production of book on that topic: (Im)permanence: Cultures in/out of Time (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008).

In 2008 the focus and organization of the Center changed as it shifted away from supporting residential fellowships and toward supporting multi-year collaborative artistic and scholarly projects undertaken by Center members. We are doing so under the rubric of three-year “Initiatives” on themes of interest to significant numbers of faculty from the College of Fine Arts and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Each Initiative is led by two co-organizers and a cross-college executive committee, which selects three multi-year Projects for support. Each Project has a leader or leaders, and involves different constituencies of people drawn from within and outside Carnegie Mellon University. The initiative organizers, executive committee members, and project leaders take an active role in supervising the projects, as well as other Center-sponsored talks, workshops, and public events relating to the topic of the Initiative. Currently, members from the Departments of English, History, and Modern Languages, and the Schools of Art, Drama, and Music, are taking part in a three-year initiative on “Public Art” (2008-2011) with three sponsored projects. In addition, they are working at building connections with arts organizations in Pittsburgh through a planned series of workshops on public art.

Notwithstanding this change in footing, the Center continues to sponsor a wide range of talks, panels, and events, and exhibits and performances. New undergraduate course offerings are planned beginning in fall 2010. Finally, the Center has maintained its support for community projects, like Arts Greenhouse and Jóvenes Sin Nombres.