Temple, save Philly’s arts scene by creating an easy transfer for all UArts students

Temple, save Philly’s arts scene by creating an easy transfer for all UArts students

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Alex Artom-Ginzburg is considering transferring to Temple after the University of the Arts closed its similar art program. But small differences could change his education.

“It’s frustrating that I now have to reschedule everything I wanted to do,” said Artom-Ginzburg, a rising sophomore instrumental performance major. “I liked being a performance major with a music education minor because I could dip my toes into both worlds and get a good mix of what I wanted to do.”

On May 31, UArts announced that the university would permanently close its doors. The community of approximately 1,300 students and approximately 700 faculty and staff members was shocked.

Artom-Ginzburg originally planned to enroll in UArts’ Masters of Arts in Teaching program, where students earn a four-year bachelor’s degree with a major in composition or performance and a minor in music education. Students then apply to stay for a fifth year to earn a master’s degree and teaching certificates.

Temple’s two-year master’s degree in music education is different in that it requires a bachelor’s degree in music education. Boyer College of Music and Dance does not offer an instrumental focus on electric bass, Artom-Ginzurg’s concentration. Temple should have a designated person in admissions to communicate with UArts students, particularly those with specialized art concentrations such as illustration and game art — two majors not offered within the Tyler School of Art.

“Maybe it would be a good idea to have someone on the board who is the overall accommodations officer for UArts, so they can get suggestions from people,” Artom-Ginsburg said.

UArts uniquely offered students a specific and individualized arts education, and provided a close-knit community while broadening the city’s cultural and artistic landscape. Temple should accommodate students with a variety of majors so that they can receive a comparable education to that offered at UArts.

Board of Trustees Chairman Mitch Morgan released a statement encouraging UArts students to transfer to the university. Temple also announced plans to explore a merger with UArts and work together to promote a “seamless and transparent” enrollment path. If Temple wants to ensure an easy transition for UArts students, they must consider students whose majors do not align with existing majors at Temple.

Bradley Philbert, a professor at UArts, believes the loss of the university is due to a greater awareness of taking advantage of general societal rights.

“There is a real risk that we are losing, socially, the people who know how to tell compelling stories to share ideas, to use their creativity to spread those ideas,” said Philbert, executive vice president of United Academics of Philadelphia and a professor of Critical Theory. “Those are the things that keep our society vital.”

In January, the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts also announced that it plans to close all MFA and BFA programs. By spring 2025, there will be no more art schools on the Avenue of the Arts.

Philadelphia is a city full of art and artists. But the closure of UArts and PAFA jeopardizes higher arts education by displacing students and faculty, and the potential loss of new artists could harm Philadelphia’s art scene by stifling cultural growth.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Philadelphia’s arts scene employs approximately 33,000 people. According to Americans for the Arts and Economic Prosperity, Philadelphia’s arts scene attracted 9.4 million visitors from June 2022 to May 2023, generating $423.9 million in tax revenue. The closures have a direct impact on the city’s economy by reducing stable employment, which could reduce the city’s revenue.

UArts’s collaborations with other members of Philadelphia’s arts scene provided opportunities for artistic expression. Events like the decade-old Arts Polyphone Festival, a collaborative effort between student artists and fully trained creatives to produce new musicals, contributed to unique educational efforts. Temple should broaden its arts reach by hosting events previously organized by UArts to provide unique performances for artists and students.

Sam Heaps mourns the loss of UArts, as he believed UArts was a vital part of Philadelphia.

“I’ve lived in the city on and off since 2009, and UArts has always been, I think, a very critical place, and it’s fun to see artists come out of the school and stay in Philadelphia and enrich Philadelphia,” said Heaps, an adjunct professor of Critical Theory at UArts. “A lot of artists are in Philadelphia because of the University of the Arts, and against that backdrop, I think we’re going to see a lot of loss of community and diversity of talent.”

In April, UArts hosted a spring concert featuring the No-Name Pops, an innovative new-age symphony that included professors and a professor emeritus from the University of the Arts. UArts held the event at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, a 111-year-old venue acquired by UArts in 2017 that may cease operations following UArts’ closure.

UArts owned and operated many venues and galleries in the city, many of which were open to the public. With the school closing, many of these venues may also close, limiting local venues and diverse art that are open to the public.

Philadelphia’s public art scene curates a unique city through renowned venues like the Kimmel Center and the Philadelphia Art Museum. Mural Arts Philadelphia also has 4,000 murals across the city, making it the largest public art program in the country.

The closure of UArts leaves Philadelphia’s arts community vulnerable, and the importance of arts education remains in question. Students and faculty are left without guidance or structure from UArts. In this time of uncertainty, it is important to recognize that art always reflects cultural and political realities, and without artists, there is no social reflection.

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