Arts in Action is a signature new program of the College of Arts & Sciences to allow students to spend a semester in New York City, working directly with community-based art organizations and under the direction of Mildred Beltre, a faculty member at the University of Vermont.
The program places students in community-based art organizations, connecting students to the impact that art can have on people’s lived experiences. The program has its roots in her work as a student advisor, Beltre said. Students would ask her what they could do with an art major, and she created the program as a response to this question.
“I really wanted people to get to be able to have an opportunity to see how art moves in the world,” Beltre said. "However, the program is available to students of all majors, and students often find connections no matter what they are studying, artwork and artist projects are just a framework we can use to think about the world," said Beltre, an associate professor in drawing and printmaking in the Department of Art and Art History.
“There was a student who was a Linguistics and Spanish major, and she did an internship at the Queens Museum,” Beltre said, in a community with a large Spanish-speaking population. “She got to use her organizational, writing and language skills.”
“I'm interested in the power of art to change lives not in superficial ways, but in really deep concrete and significant ways,” said Beltre.
Beltre sees the city as a school, and takes the students to visit different institutions, meet with different artists and visit different sites that have some relation either to their internship or to the class, Beltre said. In addition to educational experiences and a deeper understanding on how art can impact us, Beltre, as a native New Yorker, hopes that students will see New York in a different light, “It’s important to me to have students be in New York in a respectful way, and to understand the life of the city, in ways that are real and more than what they see in the media or in movies.”
The program has a focus on organizations that have ties in the community, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Queens Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image and smaller organizations like the Franklin Furnace, which is an organization devoted to performance art, and Creative Time, which is an arts funding organization, Beltre said.
Thanks to several generous donors, there is no extra cost to UVM students who choose to spend the semester in the City. Students pay tuition to UVM and receive their credits through UVM as if they were in Burlington.
“By receiving donations to cover the housing my hope is that many more students feel they can participate,” Beltre said.
For more information or to apply visit the Arts in Action website.
Willow Zartarian is a sophomore majoring in Economics with minors in English and Psychology. She is interested in topics related to social justice and economic inequality.