The new Campus Connections program links St. Paul’s Ordway Center for the Performing Arts with the University of St. Thomas College of Arts and Sciences and Macalester College, thanks to a recent grant.

A November 2008 Wallace Foundation Excellence Award supports the four-year program, an initiative to build bridges between the center and college students, faculty, staff and alumni. Audience development is the foundation’s aim, and the Ordway hopes to integrate young adults more fully with the arts community and inspire young people to pursue artistic interests.

“Creativity and the arts exist in every part of our lives,” notes Heather Spicuzza, Ordway’s vice president of education and community engagement. “Attending live performances – sharing the same space, time and air with artists – creates community. Great art teaches, affirms and provokes us, reflecting the world we live in and envisioning all we can be.”

The new program will enable the university community to integrate Ordway theater, world music and dance artists with related areas of the university. Master classes, community events, reduced ticket pricing and more will be available to St. Thomas students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Dr. Sarah Schmalenberger, assistant professor of music at St. Thomas, already forged a relationship with the Ordway by bringing her class to hear world-renowned ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro last month. The following day, Shimabukuro visited Schmalenberger’s class, discussing his passion for music, nurturing the creative spirit and an interdisciplinary approach to the arts.

“My students left the session feeling good about the decisions they have made to pursue music as a vocation,” Schmalenberger said.

The Ordway staff welcomes ideas from students and faculty alike for Campus Connections opportunities to expand the program. The Ordway welcomes students to contact Katie Rye, (651) 282-3113; the contact person for faculty is Amy Miller, (651) 282-3017.