Metropolitan areas throughout the world are centers for the arts in which humanity discovers and nurtures its soul. In electing to name the creative arts as central to its mission, Southwest Missouri State University recognizes the historical impact and future potential of the creative arts in the region in which it is located and which the university has historically served, as well as in the larger world.
SMSU understands the essentially public nature of the creative arts and the ramifications of such a nature: that artists, as vehicles of human expression, must actively participate in the community and not be isolated from it; that the creative arts fulfill a variety of needs which range from enlightenment to entertainment, from economic development to educational engagement; that the creative arts are inextricably linked to a society which prizes quality of life; and that the creative arts must consistently seek to develop breadth of expression and to support freedom of expression in deference to the diversity of the public they serve. In these ways, the arts become a bulwark of democratic values. Inasmuch as the creative arts are of, by, about, and for the people, the university's commitment to the creative arts is a statement of oneness with its community.
In this spirit of unity, the university dedicates itself to a collaboration with all creative arts venues, and with all organizations and initiatives which utilize or have an impact on the creative arts within SMSU's unique metropolitan region. This commitment will manifest itself in a wide variety of endeavors, including partnerships with public schools to ensure quality creative arts education from kindergarten through graduate school; joint projects with civic arts organizations to provide learning opportunities for our students while also assisting the organizations; and collaboration with other community groups to affirm and cultivate the arts' integral relationship to civic vitality. Obviously, the creative arts form a critical point of intersection between SMSU and its community and are, therefore, central to the institution's public affairs mission.
In addition, SMSU's commitment to the creative arts is illustrated by the seriousness with which it takes its responsibility to prepare university students for potential careers in the creative arts, to enrich the lives of all SMSU students through exposure to the creative arts, to educate and entertain, both formally and informally, the populace of the area served by the institution, and to create, for artists and audiences alike, a foundation of lifelong appreciation of how aesthetic values enrich all of our lives.
In embracing the creative arts as fundamental to its mission, Southwest Missouri State University asserts the intrinsic value of the creative arts to society and commits itself to engaging the campus community and the community external to the institution in an on-going exploration of the relevance of the creative arts to the world.
Selected University assets to support the creative arts theme
- SMSU boasts a wide variety of outstanding venues for artistic performances and exhibits, including: 450-seat Coger Theatre; 250-seat Ellis Recital Hall; 500-seat Plaster Student Union Theater; 3,600-square-foot Department of Art and Design Gallery; 4,400-square-foot Student Exhibition Center; Wehr Band Hall; Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts; and the West Plains Civic Center which is used by SMSU-West Plains through the University/Community Programs partnership with the City of West Plains.
- SMSU provides its creative arts students with an impressive array of specialized learning spaces, including: Media Computer Lab for electronic arts; Anna Lou Blair Media Room for cultural studies; computer labs for English composition, creative writing, and technical writing; graphic design, computer animation, and digital imaging labs; Language Learning Center; music composition lab; Fite Family Computer-Assisted Instruction Classroom for music; music library; instructional television studio and post-production facilities in the Public Affairs Classroom Building; three photography studios; specialized instructional spaces and equipment for all areas of studio art.
- A number of special events annually supplement the classroom instruction. These include 16 art exhibits per year, many that are regional, national, or international in scope; the University Film Series; the Moon City Reading Series; the Critical Reading Series; English Week; approximately 150 music concerts; about a dozen dance productions per year; Hispanic Heritage Week; ArtsRave; and Tent Theatre.
- SMSU-sponsored events are supplemented by professional performances presented by the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts.
- Public radio station KSMU, SMSU's Television Services Department, and the student newspaper, The Southwest Standard, offer many opportunities for students.
- SMSU has a significant outreach to public schools through the creative arts. These range from workshops and programs for teachers to internships for students to the Ozarko Marching Band Festival to the In-School Players to the Inertia Dance Company.
- The College of Arts and Letters Lecture Series features two prominent leaders in the disciplines represented in the college. The series provides another means of outreach to the community, enhances the profile of the arts and letters in Springfield and the region, and helps build bridges between the college and the community at-large.
- SMSU's debate program has been nationally recognized for several generations of students.
- Study abroad opportunities coordinated by the University College provide students with the opportunity for firsthand encounters with different cultures, countries, and people.
- The region's rich creative arts assets include such institutions as Springfield Little Theatre, Springfield Regional Opera, Springfield Ballet, Springfield Symphony, Mid-America Singers, Springfield Art Museum, Springfield Area Arts Council, Springfield Visual Arts Alliance, Preservation Springfield, a host of private art galleries, and the region's burgeoning entertainment industry, centering national attention on Branson.
- Springfield provides many opportunities in the creative arts. Downtown is undergoing a renaissance, emerging as an arts, entertainment, and education district.
- The creative arts theme is a key component of the university's Ozarks Studies Institute through the Ozarks Celebration Festival; the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection Web Site; the documentary The Ozarks: Just That Much Hillbilly in Me; the OzarksWatch quarterly publication; and the OzarksWatch Video Magazine television show.
- Since the summer of 1996, SMSU has hosted the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, an annual three-week program of study for some of the most talented high school artists in the State of Missouri. The program operates on an annual allocation from the Missouri General Assembly and under the auspices of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Fine Arts Academy is unique among such enterprises in that it incorporates a professional development program designed to allow selected Missouri teachers to study the Academy and its curriculum on-site in order to absorb into their own teaching practices and curricula the innovative techniques which define the Fine Arts Academy experience. Thus, through these practicing teachers, the Fine Arts Academy has a positive impact on far more Missouri students than the talented 200 who are annually invited to participate in the summer Academy endeavor.