The first Annual Meeting of the Council was held on October 12, 1972, at the President’s House, and was attended by the Executive Committee, Council members, and husbands and wives.
Each year every MIT department, lab or center submits a “Report to the President” which outlines the accomplishments and activities of the year just passed. Below you will find links to all of the reports, with a photograph from an event that took place in that particular year.
The year 1973-74 was, in effect, the Council’s first full working year, the year in which the organizational work and initial programs of the first two years began to assume regular operational shape.
The year 1974-75, the Council’s second full working year, was one of considerable growth and development in the arts at MIT. A staff of five worked with the members of the Council to further support and expand the growing range of artistic activities at the Institute.
The Committee on the Visual Arts and Mrs. Vera List, also a member of the Council’s Museum and Acquisitions Committee, arranged for the extended loan to MIT of Larry Bell’s plate glass The Iceberg and its Shadow. The work, which is part of the Albert and Vera List Family Collection, will be shown in Hayden Gallery during January and February of 1977.
The Program and Information Committee, chaired by Dr. Leo Beranek, made 13 grants totaling $22, 852 to a wide variety of programs in the arts at MIT. Grant recipients included the MIT Symphony Orchestra for additional support of their recording project with Vox Records; the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble for assistance in funding their East Coast tour in January; the Committee on the Visual Arts for funding the Peter Campus exhibit, Mask Projections; and the Dance Workshop for support of its yearly activities.
The Council’s major cultural event of the year was the debut performance of the MIT Symphony Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall, on April 12, 1978, cosponsored by the New York Alumni Center. Marcus Thompson was the featured soloist in a program chosen by conductor David Epstein. Raymond Ericson, music critic for the New York Times wrote, “the orchestra, 95 players strong, showed how skillful its wind sections are by sparkling through the dry wit of Stravinsky’s bit of native color. The strings added luster to the Weill suite…. Mr. Epstein did everything right in the Berlioz, as did Marcus Thompson, the Viola soloist.”
The Arts Facilities Sponsoring Committee, a national committee charged with helping senior officers of MIT locate capital funds in a long-range program to build new arts facilities at the Institute, had one five meetings during the year to establish goals and formulate plans. The regional meetings in New York, Washington, DC, Boston, and Chicago began planning on an intensive basis for events, publicity, and solicitation in support of the program. With several commitments in hand for phase one of the program, the Committee looked foward to an active and productive year ahead.
During the afternoon (of the Annual Meeting), the Council heard President Wiesner and Council members I.M. Pei and Mr. Alden describe preliminary architectural and funding plans for the new facilities. After a reception at Hayden Gallery, the Council’s annual dinner was held at the MIT President’s House. The Council’s sixth Eugene McDermott Award, given annually “for major contributions to the arts as a means of human fulfillment,” was presented to Jerome B. Wiesner. President Wiesner responded to the award presentation with some brief remarks that closed the meeting.
The Grants Committee, chaired by Lewis Cabot, made 27 grants to student, faculty, and staff projects in the arts at MIT. Slightly over $39,000 was allocated, which generated more than $68,000 in matching funds. Competition for Council funding continued to increase as proposals rose both in quality and in number. The 27 grants awarded represented 56 percent of the requests made; 23 of these were made on the matching principle in dollars or in-kind services. Each member of the Grants Committee visited one or more of the applicants to discuss proposals in greater depth, thereby supplementing each proposal with a site visit.
The Council celebrated its 10th year of operation in 1981-82 and saw the ground-breaking for a new Arts and Media Technology Center at MIT. Begun as an experiment in the adaptation of an arts council to an academic setting, the Council has now become a nationally recognized organization attracting cultural and business leaders of international stature who support the belief that the arts have a significant contribution to make to the scientific and technical education offered at MIT, and that MIT has an equally significant contribution to make to the future of the arts.
When the Council was established, the objectives were to create a self-supporting organization which would actively promote student participation in the arts, enhance the visual environment, and plan for better cultural facilities. Over the past year, we have been most successful in fulfilling each of these objectives. The Arts and Media Technology center, initiated and supported in large part by the Council, is nearing completion. The Permanent Collection Committee has vigorously assisted the Institute with its collection of public works of art and art loaned to students. This advisory body has been so effective that it will serve as a prototype for Council liaison committees with faculty in architecture and the performing arts. Our grants program, through increased publicity, technical assistance, and an expanded budget, substantially raised the level of student participation in arts activities. And this year, for the first time in Council history, 100% of our budget was contributed by Council members and friends.
The Council received two endowments this year — the Abramowitz Lecture/Concert Fund and the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts. The Abramowitz Fund, formerly administered by the Department of Humanities, was established in 1961 by William L. Abramowitz ’36 as a memorial to his father. It will enable the Council to present one major artistic event each year for the benefit of the Institute and local community. The Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts was established last year by Louis Sudler, a Chicago arts patron and performer. This award is for a graduating senior who has demonstrated the highest standards of proficiency in music, theatre, painting, sculpture, design, architecture, or film. The Council now administers five endowed funds. MIT, in total, has eleven endowed student art awards — significantly more than most other universities in the country.
Through the efforts of the Grants Committee, chaired by Bradford M. Endicott ’49, we were able to support 16 performances, 30 student-initiated projects, 12 exhibitions, 10 lecture/workshops, and two national tours of MIT student arts groups. A residency by performance artist Stuart Sherman was one of many Council-supported projects to receive press coverage. The Boston Globe referred to Sherman as “a zany original humor…. a trenchant wit.” Sherman’s residency and performance stimulated extensive student and faculty participation–setting a model for many other grantees.
Continued transition, assessment, and evaluation have been the themes of this, the fifteenth, year of theCouncil’s existence. Completion and dedication of the new Laya and Jerome B.Wiesner Building for Arts and Media Technology marked the realization of a dream the Council had worked toward almost since its founding and left Council members asking, “Now what?” The deans of the Schools of Architecture and Planning and Humanities and Social Sciences assumed ex officio positions on the Executive Committee in order to strengthen ties between the Council and MIT’s academic programs. Deborah Hoover, Executive Director of the Council for four years, and a staff member for a total of seven, resigned and was replaced by Helvi McClelland. And, at the close of the year, Provost John Deutch announced the intended formation of a faculty-based committee to review, during the 1986-87 academic year, all of MIT’s academic, extracurricular, and administrative programs in the visual and performing arts.
Completion of the Villers Experimental Media Facility (aka the Cube)- specifically designed for the development and creative use of new media – made possible the realization of two visiting artist projects. The month of March was devoted to the residency of Antenna Theater of Sausalito, California, whose members worked in collaboration with MIT’s Film/Video Section to produce the world premiere of Radio Interference, a high-technology, avant-garde commentary about the effect of technology on human communication. In May, the Wooster Group premiered Frank Dell’s St. Antony, a paraphrase of Gustave Flaubert’s epic work La Tentation de Saint Antoine, directed by Elizabeth LeCompte in collaboration with Peter Sellars.
During IAP, the Council again sponsored a very successful series called “ART: A User’s Guide,” which consisted of four arts field trips. 45 students attended a concert by the Boston Chamber Music Society, a tour of the List Visual Arts Center, August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson at the Huntington Theater, and a performance of multicultural dance by choreographers Kei Takei and Uttara Coorlawala. Before each event, a faculty or staff member presented an informal lecture to illuminate the program; this year’s guest speakers included music professor Lowell Lindgren, Dana Friis-Hansen, Assistant Curator of the Committee on the Visual Arts, and Robert Scanlan, lecturer and Director of Dramashop.
CAMIT concluded its final year of independent operation in steadfast commitment to the principles by which it was founded: “to foster the arts at MIT…to act as a catalyst for development of a broadly based, highly participatory program in the arts.” The selection of an Associate Provost for the Arts culminates a series of appointments and organizational reforms that signal the essential role of the arts within the comprehensive educational experience of MIT students. Council members will continue to participate actively as a support and advisory body to the Associate Provost and the new Office of the Arts. This office will administer those programs maintained by CAMIT, design and implement new initiatives, and coordinate information and publicity about creative arts activities on and off campus.
The fruitful partnership now established between the Council for the Arts and the MIT Office of the Arts, headed by Associate Provost for the Arts, Professor Ellen T. Harris, represents the hallmark of Council activity this year. As a result of its new position within the Office of the Arts, the Council has rekindled its productive relationship with the MIT cultural community. The members of the Council have been reinvigorated with a clear vision of their ongoing contributions to the robust health of the arts at MIT.
The Acquisitions Committee solicited conservation proposals from the List Visual Arts Center and the MIT Museum. In May, the Committee chairman recommended full funding for three conservation projects at the Museum: an oil portrait of William Johnson Walker by Henry Cheever Pratt (1867); a ten-section lithograph, La Fee Electricite,by Raoul Dufy (1953); and five hand-colored woodblock prints from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (1869). At its May meeting, the Council’s Executive Committee recommended that the Acquisitions Committee be replaced by separate advisory boards for the List Visual Arts Center and the MIT Museum. Preliminary discussions on the function and composition of these committees were conducted with the directors of each institution.
The Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize was presented by Alan Brody to Professor Alan Lightman at the Annual Meeting luncheon on Friday, October 23. Professor Lightman most generously donated his prize money to the fledgling Arts Scholar Program. At the Annual Meeting dinner at Endicott House, the Eugene McDermott Award was presented by Dorothea Endicott (McDermott Award Committee chair) and Anita Desai (Mr. Diaz’s nominator and professor in the MIT Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies) to Junot Diaz, New York-based author of the short-story collection, Drown. Mr. Diaz read from his work following the dinner.
On March 23-26, 2000, a group of 40 Council members and staff traveled to Miami, Florida for the fourth Council for the Arts at MIT Arts Excursion. Highlights included visits to the private collections of Martin Z. Margulies, Ruth and Richard Shack, and Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz. Council member Paul Gluck served as host and tour guide for the convivial group. A splendid and exhausting time was had by all.
The Council for the Arts enjoyed a “mini-excursion” on June 11 and 12, 2001 in Washington DC. Approximately 22 members and friends attended. Highlights included a visit to the studio of master printmaker Lou Stovall, tours of WPA murals in the Department of the Interior and Department of Justice, and the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the Department of State. The event concluded with a gala dinner at the Kennedy Center with 200 members of the MIT Alumni Club of Washington DC, where guests were entertained by the MIT student group, the Festival Jazz Ensemble combo, and heard a speech by Michael Kaiser, MIT Sloan School class of 1977 and newly-appointed head of the Kennedy Center.
On May 23, approximately 40 council members and guests gathered in Seattle, Washington, for the “Seattle-Vancouver Arts Adventure.” The kick-off event was a cocktail reception at the studio of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, situated in a former boathouse. The group was treated to a glass blowing demonstration and the delightful display of the work of the Chihuly studio, as well as Mr. Chihuly’s personal collections of a variety of artifacts and memorabilia displayed at the studio building.
One of the highlights of the October 2002 annual meeting was a panel discussion, moderated by council member Robert Schaffer ’80, featuring students who were involved in theater while at MIT. Ivi Acuña ’96, Charles Armesto ’97, Richard Davis ’95 Manish Goyal ’96, Paulo A. Pereira ’95, and Linda Tsang ’96 all spoke eloquently of the role that theater played in their lives while at MIT and its relevance in their post-MIT lives. In the author’s opinion, this was one of the most inspiring and moving presentations held at any annual meeting and sparked many lively discussions at the luncheon following.
From September 2 to 7 of 2003, 40 council members, spouses, and guests enjoyed a spectacular trip to Venice. The trip was organized to coincide with the 2003 Biennale, since the commissioner of the American Pavilion was Kathleen Goncharov of MIT’s List Visual Arts Center. Steve Memishian ’70 was a prime mover in the planning and execution of the trip. Highlights included a trip to many glass factories on Murano, led by Peter Houk of the MIT Glass Lab; watching the pageantry and excitement of the Regata Storica from the balcony of a palazzo on the Grand Canal; a cocktail reception at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection; and an after‐hours tour of St Mark’s cathedral in the Piazza San Marco.
The highlights of fiscal year 2005 were the Council for the Arts at MIT’s excursion to Dallas, TX, in January, and the presentation of the newly enhanced Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts to architect Santiago Calatrava in March. The council also granted $25,000 to the Inauguration Committee for the installation of J. Meejin Yoon’s White Noise/White Light on Kresge Oval, where it was on view during the entire week of activities celebrating Dr. Hockfield’s inauguration in May. Professor Yoon had received CAMIT funding the previous year to build the prototype of this work in preparation for the Summer Olympic Games in Athens.
Fiscal year 2006 was one of highs and lows for the Council for the Arts at MIT, as we had our best fundraising year to date but also suffered the loss
of many long-time, beloved Council Members. We experienced a rather drastic change as well, as Alan Brody stepped down after serving 10 years as associate provost for the arts. Former dean of humanities, arts, and social sciences Philip Khoury was chosen as his successor.
This year the Council for the Arts received support from the Graduate Student Life Grants program to launch a new series of events directed at the MIT graduate student community. Three times over the course of the 2006-2007 academic year, MIT graduate students, their spouses or guests, and local MIT alumni/ae were invited to attend special concert evenings at the Club Café in Boston, presented by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Despite having two of the events on some of the most bitterly cold evenings of the year, each evening proved very successful, attracting an average of forty attendees. The Council will apply for funding for a similar program for the upcoming 2007-2008 academic year. It is hoped that the audience members for these events can be cultivated as future Council members.
The first-prize winner of the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize was Visual Arts Program graduate student Caitlin Berrigan. Mary Hale (G, architecture) won second prize, and Sabrina Kleinenhammans (G, architecture) and Talieh Rohani (G, Comparative Media Studies) tied for third place. The exhibition opened on May 27, 2008 in the Wiesner Student Art Gallery in the Stratton Student Center, and featured a performance of sorts, when Hale inflated a floatable dress she designed and built. The prizes were larger this year: first prize was $5,000, second prize was $3,500, and the honorable mention was $3,000. Schnitzer Prize winners are chosen by a committee made up of Council members, former Schnitzer winners, faculty, and staff, led by Council member Peter Athens ’52. The Schnitzers are philanthropists from Portland, Oregon, who founded the prize in 1996.
The Council’s excursion to Prague took place from September 23 – 28, 2008. Attending were Philip Khoury, Beth Raffeld, Anne and John Kern, Ann Allen and Bill Macurdy, Glenn and Kathie Strehle, Peter Wender, Anne Alden, Al and Pepi Weis, Jane Pappalardo and her daughter Sheila Lemke, Colleen Messing, Sara-Ann and Bob Sanders, Brit d’Arbeloff, Donna and Chuck Hieken, Susan Cohen, and Magda Fernandez. On the advice of the MIT Alumni Association, the Council hired International Seminar Design, Inc. to handle the logistics of the trip, although much of the programming was researched by Susan Cohen. Events included a tour of the Princely Collections at the Lobkowicz Palace (followed by dinner), a tour of the Mayor’s Rooms at the Municipal Building, a visit to the Strahov Monastery, Kampa Museum, the Karlin Studios, the DOX contemporary Art centre, the hunt/Kastner Gallery, the State Theater, and the opera. The highlight was a visit to Třebešice Castle, a villa about an hour outside Prague that houses an artist residency program.
2010 was a banner year for the McDermott Award, with the choice of winner (Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel), format of presentation, and residency programming coming together as a perfect storm of positive energy, publicity, and exciting and relevant engagement for all. Thanks to the director of Arts Initiatives, the program was an enormous success. Having Dudamel on campus mere months after taking the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and at the apex of “Dudamania,” was a wonderful opportunity for the arts at MIT to be highlighted to numerous constituencies on campus as well as locally and nationally.
A complete record of all 1406 CAMIT grants awarded since 1974 was compiled, providing valuable information about trends in grantmaking over the past 40 years, allowing sorts by arts discipline and recipient affiliation. Other demographics were gathered and charted, including council members’ ages and geographic locations.
The Council travelled to Berlin for a whirlwind, art-filled, five-day trip; 33 Council members and guests, plus six MIT staff/faculty members attended. One highlight was a visit to the private collection of Brigitte and Arend Oetker, who graciously allowed us to visit their beautiful home and served a sumptuous sushi luncheon. Council member Marcel Botha ’06 hosted a cocktail party at his very chic flat in Berlin. We visited with two MIT artist-alumni who are based in Berlin: Pia Lindman ’99 and Luis Berrios-Negron ‘06. A trip to Frederick the Great’s baroque palace in Potsdam, Sanssouci, was a change of pace from the cutting edge contemporary art we saw in studio visits as well as private collections in Berlin. A splendid and exhausting time was had by all.
Inspired by comments made by panelists at the 40th annual meeting, the development of an online network for alumni, the Alumni Arts Exchange (AAx) is underway. Designed to engage MIT alumni who were involved in the arts at MIT while students, those who became involved following graduation, and those who are practicing artists, AAx will be sited on the Alumni Association’s Infinite Connection, and its online presence will be led by Associate Members of CAMIT (recent graduates who won arts awards or were Arts Scholars while students at MIT). AAx will lay the groundwork for live events tied to geographical clubs around America and the world. The program will be launched at the Alumni Leadership Conference on September 28, 2013. CAMIT will benefit from AAx as a way to identify and recruit likely new members from a younger demographic.