*ArtPower! at UC San Diego is the university’s multi-disciplinary arts presenter, bringing internationally renowned artists to campus. I served as the Program & Audience Development Manager from 2007-2010. ArtPower!’s future is uncertain in the current round of budget cuts at the university. This is my open letter to the administration. Please send yours to Artistic Director Martin Wollesen at mwollesen@ucsd.edu.

To whom this many concern,

I could write this letter as a former employee of ArtPower!, the organization that gave me and many other UCSD grads such an important and positive professional experience early in our careers. Clearly, my three years with the program has made me passionate about its work, invested in its goals, and with a clear understanding from the inside of its deep commitment to students and the community.

But I would rather write this letter as an alumnus of UCSD who experienced the power of ArtPower! as a student and who recognized then its unique and invaluable contributions to the university community.

It would be a mistake to consider the effect of ArtPower! merely through the performances it presents, the numbers of people who attend, even the reactions to its numerous university and community-wide engagement activities, though those are of course important indications of its reach and impact and I know you have those numbers, reports, and have seen first hand the way ArtPower! brings people of all ages and affiliations together in a way that no other university program does.

I didn’t see ArtPower! as a series of data and assessment as a student. ArtPower! was for me then, as I suspect it is still for students and community members now, a symbol. It represents the university’s recognition, concern, and embrace of the larger San Diego community outside our La Jolla walls. It represents the university’s engagement in global cultural exchange in visible, tangible ways that a book or even a guest lecture cannot achieve. It represents the university’s sincere efforts to turn the campus into a hub of creative, social interaction that is stimulating and relevant. And, most importantly, ArtPower! represents possibility. My interaction with the program was a crucial tool in helping me discover how I could put the skills and passions I was developing at UCSD toward a concrete professional career.

In other words, ArtPower! opened up the way I thought about my future and, indeed, the path I ended up taking. No academic class had such an impact, nor any career service panel. The existence of ArtPower!, beyond the specifics of its programming, is a statement about possibility – the possibilities of how to look at the world, the possibilities of how to be a citizen of the university and our society, and the possibilities of how we think imaginatively about the contributions we make in our lives beyond our time at UCSD.

To lose ArtPower! would be to lose a valuable pipeline between academic studies and life – not life defined by internships, starting salaries, and graduate admissions, but rather one defined by awareness, connection, insight, and possibility.

Brian Schaefer ‘05