Arts Initiative

The Arts Initiative at the University of Michigan raises the visibility of and engagement with the arts across the U-M campus by developing programs with students, faculty, staff, and artists from Michigan and across the country, as well as by giving grants to an array of projects.

The Arts Initiative develops and implements programs that support arts-centered research and creative work to advance the mission of the university. The Arts Initiative emphasizes the value of the arts in creating interdisciplinary spacesfor collaboration and community-building — both through new projects and in collaboration with existing ones.

With funding from the Office of the President, the University of Michigan Arts Initiative was launched in October 2019. Beginning in January 2023, the Arts Initiative will be entering a five-year growth phase.

The University of Michigan Arts Initiative seeks to illuminate and expand human connections, inspire collaborative creativity, and build a more just and equitable world through the arts.

The University of Michigan Arts Initiative will make the arts central to the University’s identity and mission. To achieve this, we will expand access to the arts on campus and beyond, activate them in student learning, and integrate the arts into research across disciplines. We will strengthen the arts ecosystem of southeast Michigan while also shaping national and global understandings of how the arts can lead social change.

The four main goals of the initiative are:

  • Strengthening the student experience and learning by expanding and integrating the arts in teaching and learning
  • Activating interdisciplinary discovery and arts research
  • Broadening and deepen partnerships with communities and the public
  • Building capacity and sustainability for the arts

Executive Committee

The Arts Initiative Executive Committee consists of arts leaders from all key U-M arts units, as well as the president’s office and provost’s office.

  • Office of the Provost – Sara Blair, Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs
  • Office of the President – Liz Barry, Special Counsel to the President
  • University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) – Christina Olsen, Director & Co-Chair, Arts Initiative
  • Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning – Jonathan Massey, Dean & Co-Chair, Arts Initiative
  • Stamps School of Art & Design – Carlos Jackson, Dean
  • College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) – Anne Curzan, Dean / Peggy McCracken, Director, LSA Institute for the Humanities
  • University Musical Society (UMS) – Matthew VanBesien, President
  • School of Music, Theater & Dance – Dave Gier, Dean
  • Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) – Maryrose Flanigan, Executive Director

Advisory Committee

The Arts Initiative Advisory Committee consists of a broader set of collaborators from arts units, non arts units, development, communications, student life, finance, DEI, and research.


  • Katrina Wade-Golden, Deputy Chief Diversity Officer, Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Maureen Schafer, Senior Director, Stewardship and Donor Relations, OUD
  • Tom Baird, Vice President for Development
  • Laura Lessnau, Director, Michigan News Tom Finholt, Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs, Office of the Provost
  • Geoff Thün, Associate Vice President for Research, UMOR/ Taubman College
  • Kate Cagney, Director, Institute for Social Research
  • Anthony Kolenic, Director, Matthei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
  • Alec Gallimore, Dean, College of Engineering
  • Timothy Lynch, Vice President and General Counsel/Legal Top Executive-General Counsel, Office of the President
  • Elizabeth Moje, Dean, School of Education

For questions please contact Christopher Audain, Managing Director at