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Save YSU programs that drive student creativity

DEAR EDITOR:

Youngstown State University plans to shutter the Master of Fine Arts program, or MFA. Nothing says “welcome home” more than closing the gates to the temple.

For a town that has a very rich history of welcoming Italian immigrants and having a town built by them, this may be construed as a major slap in the face. After all, Italy has a rich, centuries old, deeply rooted colorful history in the fine arts, painting and drawing, and was the original way to teach the public about Christianity and news of the day. Cave art is an ancient example of how we as a species communicated, as are Egyptian hieroglyphs and Easter Island sculptures.

Everyone should wonder about justification of closing a department where creativity can be explored by young minds, where arts are deeply, historically and spiritually rooted.

Youngstown has talent! It is especially worrisome since there are two awesome museums in the neighborhood, to include America’s very first museum, The Butler.

I ask the YSU board, “What are your intentions?” Can racism be an underlying unconscious motive? The black community has an abundance of talent right here to include gospel voices, jazz and soul, breakdance, history of African and Island art to include all tribal dance and ritual, and Haitian painting.

Appalachia has a strong history of folk arts, to include an awesome summer arts festival in Elkins, W. Va. Why kill it here?

This town has a history of performance art by all of Motown and rock ‘n’ roll. Detroit is its sister city after all!

Let me plant yet another seed. A fine arts program can be reconsidered and revamped to meet this onerous era.

Digital art has come of age, and The Butler has some of the best historical pieces in this genre. A Master of Fine Arts program can be built on this, on the 3-D printing that happens here. Apprenticeships to include internships in the retail and design industries can be created as collabs. Bring Barbara Corcoran here to speak!

This is an area skilled in car design. Why not teach that? Change the program to art and design program like those at FIT and Pratt Institute in New York City. Engage the fashion industry. Invite those with means to be sponsors.

Shuttering a program that allows creativity to bloom will be a travesty, as this option to kill creativity spreads out into an already small struggling town. Residents need hope, and the arts are its expression!

I ask the university to reconsider options. Challenge the status quo and create an environment that encourages innovation, not stifle it! Think outside the box.

BARBARA ANN LEVY

Youngstown

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