The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Presenter Interview
Pioneering the role of the university-based arts center, The Hopkins Center for the Arts in New Hampshire, USA
What is the total number of Hopkins Center’s programs a year?
Our visiting artists series is usually around 50 engagements—or 50 artists, a year. Then the major student ensembles have 20 performances or so. Plus there are a lot of other student projects that have to get performed. So probably it is at least 50 student performances. In addition, there are more than 200 films to show a year. On Wednesdays and Sundays, the film showings take place at 900-seat concert hall. And they also take place in a 200-seat movie theater at least two nights a week. We usually present five films a week—mostly 35 mm films. We have also started to show live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera.

Aside from the producing role for student productions, what are your criteria for selecting visiting artists and their productions?
I am trying to expose the students to things they have never seen before. I was lucky enough to go to the college where there was a very strong performing arts presenter at UC Berkeley. I was already a musician but I had never seen contemporary dance and contemporary theater. I had never seen Ping Chong or Mark Morris or Martha Graham—anything! I just soaked in everything. So I feel like this is a chance to show students the world around them to help them form their own sense of culture. Some of the students are quite sophisticated but most of them have not seen anything.

So you want to share your pleasant and inspiring experiences with the students at Dartmouth.
That’s right. Especially over the four years when they are at Dartmouth, we want there to be very diverse kinds of arts, different perspectives, different esthetics worth challenging them with. We also want them to have a chance to be in the proximity of some of the famous artists of their time. A Dartmouth student called me for an interview last week about the Philip Glass program in January. (* “An Evening of Films and Discussion with Philip Glass”, where films Glass worked on were screened, and he himself talked about them on the stage. Glass’s chamber music concert will take place in April. Margaret and director of Film Program collaborated to create the January event). He had researched it for an article he would write for the Dartmouth newspaper. He asked me, “A lot of students have never heard of Philip Glass. Why should they go?” I said, “Because he is one of the most influential living composers of our time in the world. Even if you don’t know his work, the commercials you see on TV are ripping off his work. So you’d better find out who he is, because this is a chance in your life time to learn about this. It’s a special opportunity.”
  We are always searching for ways to show a really wide array of both contemporary and cultural tradition from around the world. When we do that, we not only see what parts of the current curriculum at Dartmouth we can connect with, but also we look at who the students are.
  For example, Dartmouth College happens to have the largest Native American program in the Ivy League, because the college was started more than two hundred years ago as a place where the Natives Americans could be “educated.” And it changed very fast but they went back to that goal 30 years ago and they built a really extensive program. So they recruit outstanding Native American students from all over the country to come there. That’s just one of many things when I think about the program. But when I look at, for example, Japanese folk arts groups, like Warabi-za, I am looking for what is happening in the Music Department and if there is a course that relates to this. I’m also asking, “Is there a way to bring together Warabi-za with Native Americans to compare their traditions?,” because Native Americans have folk traditions based in the land and weather and water, etc.
  That’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of working on this campus where students are interested in stepping outside of their own tradition and meeting another tradition.

Are there any types of arts you would avoid presenting?
Yes. I avoid bringing artists who I consider kind of inauthentic. For example, I would never bring a bunch of drummers from somewhere in the U.S. just doing taiko. I would bring Japanese artists doing taiko. Or, even I would bring Nisei (second or third generation Japanese Americans) doing taiko, it’s important if they have a particular perspective on what they are doing and why they are doing it. When I’m going to bring in a certain art form, I wouldn’t bring somebody just doing that particular form. I go to the source if I can. That’s very important to me.
  Also I’ve tried to avoid presenting artists who people can see right in my community because I am not there for that purpose. I am there to bring artists people can’t see without my efforts. So, since a local theater is already presenting local folk artists a lot, I don’t need to present them. I have my own niche.
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