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Inspiring Creativity: A New Era for the Arts at Holy Cross

“The arts have been a defining component of the human experience across every culture in history — and are a core facet of Jesuit tradition. By illuminating and animating our understanding of the human condition, the arts celebrate God’s creation and are therefore an essential part of Holy Cross’ mission of religious teaching. By cultivating creativity in our students, the arts at Holy Cross honor a core tenet of Jesuit spirituality — the power of imagination to shape the world in positive ways. Now is the time to bring the arts at Holy Cross to the next level.”
~ Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president, College of the Holy Cross

THE CASE FOR THE ARTS ON MOUNT ST. JAMES

The new Center for the Arts and Creativity will elevate the arts at Holy Cross, bring the brightest artistic minds to our college and community, encourage increased participation, and facilitate the infusion of creativity across the curriculum. We need your help in realizing this historic opportunity, and invite you to support us as we lay the groundwork for this pursuit of academic excellence and personal growth for our students. Help us embolden the College to be a model for the transformative power of a liberal arts education where critical thinking, creative imagination, discerning faith, and generous service engages the spirit of all who pass through our campus.

Art has the power to ignite the imagination, to transform thinking, and to open a window to the world around us. As we face the challenges of life in the 21st century, the arts are now, more than ever, essential to the liberal arts education we provide at the College of the Holy Cross. And so, we must embark on a new era in the arts at Holy Cross, with a dedicated center that will help us more deeply integrate the arts and creativity into our curriculum, fostering the experiential, interdisciplinary, collaborative learning necessary for the leaders of tomorrow.

In the last four decades, the arts have become an integral part of the Holy Cross experience. The arts are vital to an education that encourages the development of the whole person: mind, body, and spirit, in the context of community. And yet, we lag behind our peer schools in arts facilities and programming. Holy Cross has never shied away from a competitive challenge. The time has arrived to create an Arts Center on par with our overall commitment to excellence.

NURTURING IMAGINATION: THE ARTS, THE JESUITS, AND THE FUTURE OF PEDAGOGY

As we imagine what might be, and connect the past, present, and future, the arts provide a lens through which we can examine a multitude of topics — ethics and politics, faith and social justice, suffering and courage — all the while strengthening our commitment to nurture lives seeking purpose through engaging the needs of the global community. Reflecting the Jesuit tradition, we are committed to advancing artistic endeavor as a force for addressing the world’s most-pressing concerns and empowering Holy Cross students to instigate positive change in their local, national, and global communities.

Whether students pursue the arts as a career, take an art course, participate in an ensemble or theatrical production, or attend a performance, the arts at Holy Cross foster the power of imagination, and open students’ minds to new ways of thinking and engaging with the world. Through a variety of arts programs at Holy Cross — from theatre to dance, music to the visual arts — we combine learning and doing in ways that encourage intellectual openness and creative nonconformity in our students.

View of the arts center from Figge Hall
View from Figge Hall

As Edward Isser, the chair of our Department of Theatre, says: “At Holy Cross, students are engaged in a variety of artistic pursuits. They represent an eclectic group from all academic disciplines — ranging from the violin-playing Chemistry major to the creative writing student doubling in English and Economics to the varsity athlete with a passion for theatre. These are honors students, self-designed majors, participants in Study Abroad, and Fulbright Scholars who also happen to be members of the choir, chamber singers, dance ensembles, a cappella groups, musicians in the orchestra, and actors in performances. In short, these are some of our best and most imaginative students … the student artists.”

Further, study of the arts nurtures the development of myriad skills — the ability to challenge, provoke, engage, problem- solve, communicate, create, and take informed risks — that are essential in a 21st-century global economy fueled by change and innovation. Engagement with the arts at Holy Cross bridges gaps between academic subjects, fostering collaboration between students and creating intellectual diversity — skills that serve students well beyond graduation.

Today’s leaders in business, nonprofit, and governmental sectors increasingly value the creative and innovative thinking that an arts education develops. They understand that study of the arts provides students with crucial life skills that are fundamental to success in the world.

A WORLD-CLASS FACILITY FOR A WORLD-CLASS COLLEGE

While the arts at Holy Cross thrive, our physical spaces for the arts on campus lag behind. To remain competitive, and to attract talented artistic faculty and students, we require facilities that match the scope of our vision.

As the arts and creativity at Holy Cross become an ever more- important part of teaching and learning, a dedicated, state-of-the-art arts facility is essential to fulfilling our mission.

Trustee Neil Prior ’56, through his gift of $25 million — the largest gift Holy Cross has received in support of the arts and creativity to date — has catalyzed the creation of a new center dedicated to the arts, creativity, and the power of imagination. The new Center for the Arts and Creativity, to be situated between the Hogan Campus Center and Luth Athletic Complex, will provide a gateway to the Holy Cross campus — a visible space for the arts, accessible to our entire community, Worcester, and the region. Located at the physical heart of campus, the new facility will also be the academic heart of campus — a place for the boundless exploration of creative expression, innovative ideas, and new collaborations across disciplines. It will reflect the same high standard of excellence we bring to everything we do at Holy Cross.

View from Beehive
View from Beehive

Programs like Arts Transcending Borders, a visiting artist-in residence program initially funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, are already infusing the arts into every aspect of the Holy Cross experience, but the limitations of our existing spaces prevent us from achieving the full potential of this and other programs. The new world-class Center for the Arts and Creativity will provide us with the spaces necessary to attract cutting-edge artists across a range of disciplines to the Holy Cross campus, benefitting the student body and deepening our already vibrant relationship with the local community, creating more opportunities for students to engage with the city of Worcester and surrounding areas.

Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), acclaimed architects with an international body of work including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (New York), The Broad (Los Angeles), and the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.), The Center for Arts and Creativity will become the creative hub of the Holy Cross campus, providing a shared home for the performance and rehearsal programs of two college departments: Theatre and Music, along with a new space for the Cantor Art Gallery and studios for dance. The new building will feature a 400-seat multipurpose theatre, a 200-seat studio theatre, practice and production spaces, flexible teaching spaces, and the media lab: an adaptable, technology-rich space designed to support creative pedagogy and collaborations between the arts departments, as well as between the arts and other disciplines.

Gallery view
Gallery view

All of these elements are contained within two pairs of walls that intersect to form a nine-square grid, forming four “pavilions” with a unique courtyard garden in each of the four corners. At the center of the grid is the Beehive, an informal space that will serve as a creative gathering place for study, performance, discussion, and experimentation for students of all backgrounds, opening new possibilities for both theoretical and experiential learning. The transparency between the pavilions and the Beehive knits together spaces for public programs, and production and practice, fostering opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations and supporting new types of classroom instruction and creative expression.

The building will anchor the upper part of campus, with students, scholars, and visitors threading through the building — which will simultaneously serve as a social space, campus common, and a center for collaboration and creative exploration.

View of Media Lab
View of Media Lab

These new world-class spaces designed by DS+R for the creation and exhibition of art will help establish Holy Cross nationally as a place for art. An architectural marvel, which will draw national attention and recognition, The Center for the Arts and Creativity will attract not only artists at the top of their fields to perform and teach current students, but it will also help bring the next generation of artists to study and train at the College — students who previously would not have considered Holy Cross. These students are central to our vision of creating a more diverse student body, and bringing the best and brightest to our campus.

Proscenium view
Proscenium view

WILL YOU ANSWER THE CALL?

Support for this new facility has great momentum. We recently received a $5-million gift toward the construction of The Center for the Arts and Creativity, bringing our fundraising total to $37 million of the estimated $92 milllion cost. As we finalize the design of the new building and approach raising two-thirds of the construction costs, we will need your support to realize this visionary initiative. Just as the Integrated Science Complex advanced how we engage the STEM fields, we now have an historic opportunity to enrich the experience of the arts and creativity at Holy Cross — it is an essential part of our vision for the future. These early gifts are a formidable endorsement of our vision and capacity for excellence, and our future promise.