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Stanford Arts Institute grants supports student works

An exhibit of vinyl prints in the Cummings Art Building lobby, a Toyon performance of a student composition for violin and viola, the Cantor Arts Center’s annual Party on the Edge– all owe their existence to student arts grants given out quarterly through the Stanford Arts Institute.

This winter, 76 students submitted applications for grants, which offer up to $1,500 of funding for projects in various areas within the arts, including architecture, creative writing, film, theater and dance. Applicants will learn if they received funding by the final week of winter quarter, and will have the following two quarters to complete their projects.

The Stanford Arts Institute currently offers two types of funding– Creativity Fund grants and Spark! grants.

The student-run Student Arts Grant Board awards Creativity Fund grants and assists recipients throughout the process of creating their work. Board president Hannah Kauffman ’14 said that the goal of the Creativity Fund is to form a connection between students, and among the entire Stanford community, at each level and phase of artistic creation.

“This involvement creates a cycle of community and interest in the arts, which we hope to extend and make more prevalent throughout campus,” she said.

The Spark! grants, awarded by The Stanford Arts Institute and endowed by Leslie Hume M.A. ’71 Ph.D. ’79 and George Hume J.D. ’75 MBA ’75, are part of a pilot program started in 2010 as a part of the Stanford Arts Initiative with the intent of making creative pursuits more accessible to students.

As a result, the grants are open to all students with an artistic vision. Khalil Griffin ’15, a computer science major, received funding to present his production, Ram’s Head’s Original Winter One Acts, in Memorial Auditorium earlier this quarter.

“What I’m constantly really impressed by is how we get applications not only from students majoring in art practices, but also from students who major in biology or computer science who are finding an outlet to do something extracurricular, creative and artistic,” said grant administrator Emily Saidel.

Saidel emphasized the grants’ emphasis on promoting creative extracurricular pursuits among students regardless of academic discipline.

“[The grantees] do not get credits for a class,” she noted. “They are not being graded. They are doing this because they feel strongly about art.”

Andrew Evans, a second-year product design master’s student, was a Spark! grant recipient last spring. Evans has performed magic for 13 years in the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Myanmar, Great Britain and France, and said that he was pushed by his friends to apply for a grant.

With funding from Spark!, he created “Vodbil,” a revitalization of several antiquated illusions.

“These old illusions are not always practical and easy to use on stage. With the grant, I was able to rediscover and build these three illusions and play with really interesting concepts that have been widely forgotten by current magicians,” he said. “It has allowed me to tap into the history of the art.”

Chana Rose Rabinovitz ’13, another Spark! grant recipient, used the grant money to organize “I am From…,” a collection of photographs and creative writing pieces created by students she worked with in Cape Town, South Africa.

Rabinovitz said she believes art is a powerful tool for outreach and community building, noting that her Spark! grant let her put together an exhibition giving a voice to the youths she worked with.

“The experience has changed my life in a lot of ways. I want to work in youth development and leadership in the long run,” she said. “I am grateful that Stanford has the resource that has allowed me to fulfill this need.”

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