Two a2ru Partners Add Campus Arts Leaders
Aug 10, 2021
This summer, the University of Michigan Arts Initiative and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of the Arts both welcomed new leadership to promote arts engagement across their respective campuses, both inside and outside the classroom.
The U-M Arts Initiative, which was launched by President Mark Schlissel in October 2019, welcomed Christopher Audain (pictured, left) as its first managing director. He joins a Working Group drawn from leadership across the University led by Co-Chairs Christina Olsen and Jonathan Massey, and Associate Director Alison Rivett (a2ru Executive Director Maryrose Flanigan also serves as a member of the Working Group). Audain was a Program Officer for six years at Alphawood Foundation in Chicago, which supports the arts and arts education, LGBTQ and civil rights, advocacy, and architecture and historic preservation. Audain holds a B.A. in political science from Kenyon College and an M.A. in Arts Administration from Goucher College. He previously worked at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago. He also served as a board chair at Congo Square Theatre Company and taught public administration at Roosevelt University.
Audain said in a statement: “The arts are unique in their ability to unveil our humanity and make life meaningful while also being a catalyst for developing new ideas and disrupting the status quo. I am thrilled to join the vibrant U-M community and forge new partnerships, discover solutions to problems, and seek out ways for everyone to enjoy what the arts have to offer in earnest.”
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Division of the Arts has named Chris Walker (pictured, right) as its new director. Walker has a long history of arts advocacy at U-W; he is a professor in the School of Education’s Department of Dance and founding artistic director of First Wave, a nationally prominent scholarship program known for pushing the boundaries of poetry, dance, theater and art. It was and continues to be the first and only university-based program of its type in the country.
“I believe that we are in a renaissance in the arts, reflected in how performance is made, curated and consumed, as well as individuals’ relationship with artwork and rituals of gathering,” Walker said in a statement. “My vision for the Division of the Arts is ‘Arts for Everyone Everywhere,’ with a focus on access, advocacy and innovation.”
“It is a belief in UW–Madison as a cultural space with diverse access to creative work, creative methodologies, and design thinking as part of how we engage with our various areas of scholarship,” he adds. “Diversity, equity and inclusion is central to this work, which is facilitated through partnerships with academic departments, student organizations and the local Madison community.”