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$101 million gift of Peter B. Lewis ’55 is already allowing the academic program at the Lewis Center for the Arts to grow.

“What’s changing is the breadth of the courses we offer,” Lewis Center associate director Fanny Chouinard said.

Of the 84 courses to be offered by the Lewis Center during the 2008-09 academic year, six will be brand new. The Center also increased the number of sections offered for popular courses. The creative writing class in fiction, for example, will see a total of three new sections. Likewise, faculty associated with the Lewis Center has also grown by 14 new members since October 2006 to a total of 83.

The Lewis Center organizes three programs that offer three certificates: creative writing, theater and dance, and visual arts. Students pursuing a visual arts certificate can focus on film and video within the context of the Program in Film and Video.

Programs housed under the Lewis Center’s banner have already begun to benefit from an increase in funding, and these benefits can directly translate into decreased student fees.

“The Lewis Center has given the students the freedom not to worry about the fees and just to take the courses,” said Courtney Mink, who works in academic support for the visual arts program, adding that “expenses can run high in art materials.”

Princeton Atelier, which sponsors classes and brings professional artists to campus to collaborate with both faculty and students, has also gleaned benefits.

“We have already begun functioning as a unit,” said Atelier associate director Ellen Goellner. “The Lewis Center has given this program more stability … and a bit more visibility,” she added.

Jon Feyer ’09, who took ATL 499/THR 499: The Testimony Project: Documentary Theater this spring, described his professors as “talking with us rather than to us or for us. It did feel much more collaborative than other theater classes I’ve taken.”

The Lewis Center encapsulates a whole range of academic offerings in creative and performing arts on campus and collaborates frequently with programs such as the music department, the art and archaeology department and the Program in Musical Performance.

Musical performance, similarly, has a degree of crossover. Students study through the Department of Music, though the courses are listed among the Lewis Center for the Arts course offerings. The Lewis Center and the different departments have also collaborated on academic and extracurricular performances.

“Some collaborations are becoming possible because of combinations of our budgets,” said Michael Pratt, director of the Program in Musical Performance.

Last spring, the Lewis Center helped fund the world premier of the Alexander Pushkin play “Boris Godunov,” co-sponsored by the departments of music and architecture and the Program in Theater and Dance.

The Lewis Center, currently housed in 185 Nassau Street, developed out of the President’s Task Force on the Creative and Performing Arts, launched in spring 2005.

President Tilghman’s report in January 2006 said that the University needs to build a “stronger and more distinctive educational model that seamlessly integrates the creative and performing arts into an undergraduate liberal arts program,” but said that this new venture will need “significant new investments.”

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