Arts Impact Report
Sep 1, 2020–Jul 31, 2021September 1, 2020–July 31, 2021
Dear friends, fellow artists, and arts supporters,
With this report, I invite you to pause and reflect on the tremendous accomplishments of Duke University’s creative community this past year. We witnessed how artistic expression helped us heal and process the trauma of COVID-19, of police brutality, of loss. Experiencing art together—even if virtually—sustained our spirits.
Our accomplishments in the 2020–2021 academic year would have been unimaginable eighteen months ago! This report represents resilience, innovation, and collaboration among staff, faculty, and students during a time when the arts were severely impacted by the pandemic. While we lost much, in some ways our audiences expanded. We found we are stronger when we join forces. Last year marked the first-ever collaboration between Duke Arts, the Nasher Museum of Art, and Duke Health, as well as the first spring student showcase video collaboratively presented by our academic art departments.
Looking ahead, I am pleased to announce that Duke Performances is more closely aligning with Duke Arts. We are working behind-the-scenes to ensure that the best of Duke Performances’ programming, commissions, artist residencies, and community engagements grow stronger with the support of a larger staff, more central university resources, and increased connection with our academic curriculum. Very exciting days ahead!
I am deeply grateful that Duke’s stages, galleries, and rehearsal rooms are reopening for the fall semester. The return of in-person audiences will indeed be joyful, and may we always remember that art and artists are essential. The past year proved that beyond a doubt.
John V. Brown Jr., J.D.
Vice Provost for the Arts
Director of the Jazz Program
Professor of the Practice of Music
“The next phase of the arts at Duke puts people first: Deeper engagement with visiting artists, a welcoming arts culture, curricular development, and accessibility.”
Duke University Provost
Academic Art Programs
Undergraduate & graduate degrees, minors, & certificates
Spanning six academic departments and programs
In arts, media, & publications
Virtual Art Events
September 1, 2020–July 31, 2021
Virtual Art Event Attendees & Video Views
September 1, 2020–July 31, 2021
Visitors to arts.duke.edu
September 1, 2020–July 31, 2021
(versus 69,674 the previous year)
Vice Provost for the Arts Initiatives
2020–2021 Duke Arts Priorities
Duke Arts collaborated with the Nasher Museum of Art and Duke Health to present RESIST COVID/TAKE 6!, an outdoor exhibition and public awareness campaign by the nationally renowned artist Carrie Mae Weems.
The exhibition, presented on campus and in Durham, emphasized the disproportionate impact of the deadly virus on communities of color, through large-scale banners and window clings, posters, street signs, and more.Learn more
Support for Arts at Duke
Funds from Duke Arts supported the Nasher Museum of Art RESIST COVID/TAKE 6! exhibition and musicians performing for Duke Arts & Health, provided free student tickets to virtual Duke Performances concerts, assisted with documenting student performances, and purchased USB microphones to empower the Duke Music Department to deliver improved virtual lessons. The DukeCreate program, supported by Duke Arts, also hired 29 MFA students and local artists to teach free virtual workshops.
In April 2020, the Duke Entertainment, Media, and Arts Network (DEMAN) launched DEMAN Live, a virtual series featuring alumni panelists and a signature program of Duke Arts. DEMAN presented 14 original, live conversation events in 2020–2021, and made another 29 videos with alumni accessible on the DEMAN Lounge, Duke's hub for the creative industries.
In October 2020, DEMAN partnered with Duke Black Alumni to present “DEMAN Weekend-ish.” The event featured alumni working behind the scenes of the TV series black-ish & grown-ish. In February 2021, DEMAN set a new attendance record of 2,669 registrants and 900 attendees for a screening and talkback for Assassins, a feature documentary directed by Ryan White ’04.
Support for Community Arts & Artists
A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Duke Arts, in partnership with the Office of Durham and Community Affairs, continued to support the regional arts ecosystem. Funds were donated to “Big Night In for the Arts,” a fundraiser for arts councils from Chatham, Durham, Orange, and Wake Counties, in partnership with WRAL-TV. Duke Arts and the Duke Office of Durham and Community Affairs also provided funding to Durham’s Hayti Heritage Film Festival and the Carolina Theatre.
Live Music at Duke Health Vaccination Sites
Duke Arts partnered with Duke Health to hire local musicians to perform at COVID-19 vaccination clinics. This was a win-win: a work opportunity for artists and individuals receiving the vaccine received the welcome surprise of live music. Duke Arts also sponsored Duke Arts & Health activities and organized outdoor pop-up performances to celebrate Duke Health employees.
Duke Receives $3.75 Million to Support Next Phase of the Arts
The grant from The Duke Endowment, a private foundation based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is supporting areas vital to the arts at Duke, including Duke Arts. Notably, it helps realize a new vision for the arts at Duke, now directed by the university’s first full-time Vice Provost for the Arts, John V. Brown.
“Arts and culture programs are perhaps the most deeply affected by COVID-19, and they will take the longest to recover. Understanding this—and knowing Duke can lead in sustaining and supporting arts on campus, in Durham and beyond—means this grant comes at a particularly important juncture.”
—John V. Brown
Vice Provost for the Arts
In a typical year, spring showcase events are presented across campus. Duke Arts produced a video showcase highlighting the accomplishments of undergraduates in academic arts departments—Theater Studies, Dance, Music, English, and Art, Art History & Visual Studies.
The “Duke Arts Students Showcase” received a Platinum Hermes Award presented by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals for “Electronic Media (Video) / Social Media Content.”Watch Showcase
DukeCreate Presents Jacob Collier
DukeCreate, a free hands-on arts workshop series for the Duke community, transitioned to hour-long virtual classes in April 2020. Attendance for DukeCreate programs grew substantially in 2021–2022; 141 hour-long workshops spanning meditation to graphic design to weaving were offered. Participants gave feedback on how much they valued the chance to do creative projects together, online. In April 2021, DukeCreate reached new heights with a songwriting workshop with Jacob Collier, Grammy-award winning pianist and YouTube sensation.
“I heavily relied on DukeCreate workshops to give me a designated hour or so of relaxed art that I could look forward to. Having the social interaction, even on Zoom, made my weeks a little less lonely.”
Duke undergraduate survey response
Fall & Spring
In Conversation in Collaboration with Duke Performances
This virtual conversation series presented by Duke Arts and Duke Performances provided a platform for 17 artists in and around the Duke community to share their work in the spirit of the in-person “Ruby Friday” programs at the Rubenstein Arts Center.
In Spring, a special session hosted by seven Duke faculty members (pictured above) provided students guidance on receiving funding to support their artistic practice.Spring ’21 in Conversation Videos
Fall & Spring
StudioDuke & Benenson Awards in the Arts
The fourth year of StudioDuke, a virtual creative lab presented by Duke Arts, DEMAN, and Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship, paired 16 students with professional mentors to develop projects in creative writing, film, music, visual arts, and more. In April 2021, Duke Arts administered the Benenson Award in the Arts, providing funding to 14 students to support summer artistic development.
“The hope is that these funds will support and sustain their artistic work that continues to compromise and comply with COVID-19 restrictions,” shared Jules Odendahl-James, chair, Benenson Selection Committee.
Duke's culture of creative innovation is fueled by our arts faculty
New Faculty Appointments
Sophia Enriquez, assistant professor in music
Deonte Harris, assistant professor of the practice of music (secondary appointment)
Zaire McPhearson, post-MFA instructor of photography (Art, Art History & Visual Studies)
Franklin Cason, assistant professor of the practice of Art, Art History & Visual Studies
Stephen Hayes, assistant professor of the practice of Art, Art History & Visual Studies
Marie Cochran, founding curator of Affrilachian Artist Project, 2020–21 Lehman Brady Professor, Center for Documentary Studies
Iyun Ashani Harrison, associate professor of the practice of dance (Duke Dance Program)
Sara Galletti, Associate Professor, Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (Art, Art History, & Visual Studies)
Stephen Hayes Receives 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art (Art, Art History, & Visual Studies)
Photographer MJ Sharp Receives Fulbright for 2021–22 Art/Science Collaboration (Center for Documentary Studies)
Spaces & Community
Connecting Duke to Durham & Beyond
CDS’s Scene on Radio Podcast Receives Peabody Nomination for Season 4 Series on American Democracy (May 2021)
Transforming the Arts During COVID-19
Celebrating resilience, innovation, and collaboration
“Our university staff are unsung facilitators and heroes, making all we do possible.”
Director of the MFA EDA and professor of the practice of Art, Art History & Visual Studies
“I have started to be so much more grateful for the small moments. Any interaction I get to have with and share with friends are so much more significant for me now than they were before. The weather being nice or a great conversation that I have I will never take for granted again. COVID-19 has given me a chance to reflect about all the good in the world and become a more positive person.”
Respondent to the survey, “Your Stories Matter: Resisting COVID-19, Embracing Loss, Transforming Our World”
“In a year unlike any other, we are grateful to the filmmakers for allowing us to be a part of celebrating their work.”
Artistic director and interim festival director, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
“The pandemic allowed Duke Performances to extend its impact within the Durham Public Schools system through virtual field trips: free online performances recorded by artists from around the world and made available district-wide to be streamed into virtual classrooms.”
Manager of campus and community initiatives, Duke Performances
“At the Nasher, I’m constantly surrounded by creative, inspiring individuals who’ve shown me there is still a place for me in the art world.”
—Claire Lorraine Hutchinson
Duke Class of 2022
“Way to go, ADF, for supporting some adventurous, risk-taking, outcome-unknown art making!”
Dancer and choreographer
Inaugural MFA in Dance Graduates
Equipping the Imagination for Social Transformation
MFA in Dance Class of 2021
The Duke Dance Program celebrated the graduation of the inaugural cohort of Duke’s MFA in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis, a degree dedicated to embodied knowledge and practice-led movement discourses.
“The impressive resilience of the students and faculty allowed creativity to prosper, even amidst adversity. Working with these artists has been a time of wonder and growth, and I am grateful to have served as the inaugural director of this extraordinary graduate program.”
Director, MFA in Dance, Professor of the Practice of Dance
For supporting the arts at Duke University
Thank you to the thousands of donors and volunteers who continually support the arts. With your investments, we have created an exceptional arts culture and have woven the arts into the fabric of the Duke experience.
“We’ve Come a Long Way”: Two Generations of Supporting the Arts at Duke
Duke Performances Advisory Board members Geoff Brock ’07 and Suzanne Stevens Brock discuss their relationship with the performing arts and their hopes for the future of the arts at Duke. “I don’t want Duke to only be known for its athletics or business or law programs; I want it to be known for everything,” shares Geoff.Read the interview
Support the arts at Duke
Help shape the arts at Duke by making a gift online at arts.duke.edu/support or contact Maggie Brandt (details below) to explore the many opportunities to give, from the performing arts and faculty professorships to the student arts experience.
Duke Arts & Duke Performances
In April 2021, members of the Duke Arts Creative Arts Student Team hosted a virtual meet-and-greet for prospective students interested in the arts. When asked, “How would you describe the arts at Duke in 5 words?” students responded with: