The Arts Council brings together campus leaders to facilitate arts research and practice,
to integrate the arts into the UGA student experience, to engage with community partners,
and to communicate faculty, staff, and student achievements to regional, national,
and international communities. The Arts Council advises the Office of the Provost
and advocates for strategic support of the arts at the University of Georgia.
In 2011, the UGA Arts Council was convened by then Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Libby V. Morris. It is a multidisciplinary group composed of the leadership of performing, visual, and literary arts units, as well as other campus units that infuse the arts into their teaching and scholarship. Today the council is composed of 17 university units.
The inaugural 2012 Spotlight on the Arts festival brought the internationally recognized
Blue Man Group to the Classic Center in Athens and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
to the University's Performing Arts Center. Notably, the festival includes a Student
Spotlight event during which student performers share their talents with their peers.
The University's Willson Center for the Humanites and Arts launched the Global Georgia Initiative in 2013. This public humanities program explores global issues of local concern in a diversity of contexts.
In 2014, the Arts Council partnered with the Athens community to host a downtown concert. The concert, with all-star lineup featuring Mike Mills of R.E.M., Pat Sansone of Wilco, and members of the band Big Star, was organized by students in the music business program of the University's Terry College of Business as a part of the Spotlight on the Arts festival.
In 2017, Spotlight on the Arts continued to grow with the addition of the "4 minutes, 33 seconds" competition, in which students share their arts-focused research with the campus community.
In 2018, the Arts Council spearheaded a bid for UGA to host the annual conference of the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (A2RU), an international organization that includes some of America's most prominent universities.
A collaboration of conference keynote speakers, professor Samantha Joye and artist Rebecca Rutstein, coincided with an exhibition of sculptures and paintings at the Georgia Museum of Art. A popular wall-mounted piece from the exhibition, "Shimmer," is now part of the museum's permanent collection.
Family Day is a special feature of Spotlight on the Arts that includes free performances, activities, demonstrations, and workshops that complement festival programming and exhibitions. In 2019, young people made collages inspired by the work of Mary Lee Bendolph, a renowned quilt maker and participant in the Civil Rights movement whose work was on display at the Georgia Museum of Art.
As part of the Spotlight on the Arts festival, 50 members of the Redcoat Marching Band traveled to New York City to perform at the historic Apollo Theater for “Redcoat Band Live.”
The Arts Council deployed several innovative strategies in response to the COVID pandemic to offer Spotlight on the Arts. As part of the festival, Grammy award-winning singer Kathy Mattea filmed a concert exclusively for UGA Presents. Shelter Projects, artistic works created by graduate students and community based artists reflecting on their pandemic experiences, were also featured in an online exhibition during the festival.
In 2021, the Arts Council supported a successful submission by the University's Willson Center for Humanities and Arts for a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support community-based artist residencies at the Penn Center, located in the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.
The Arts Council is also spearheading an Arts Cluster Lab, a multi-year initiative to enhance research, practice and community engagement in the arts.
The 10th Spotlight on the Arts festival will take place the entire month of November 2021. Since its founding, Spotlight on the Arts has drawn a total of 168,000 participants.