"What is most unique about the School of the Arts at Rhinelander? "
Director Harv Thompson ponders the question. "I think it's that this is the place where all of the arts come together. No matter what form of the arts you commit yourself to, at School of the Arts you're bound to run into people from other disciplines, people whose point of view can change how you do your own work."
Inaugurated in 1964 by the late Professor Robert E. Gard, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of the Arts (SOA) has drawn thousands of arts enthusiasts to Wisconsin's north woods over the past four decades. Thompson-director of SOA as well as professor of theatre education and chair of the Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts at UW-Madison-believes that the week-long arts education program "typifies the Wisconsin Idea."
He's referring to the principle, first proposed by UW President Charles Van Hise in 1903, that the University of Wisconsin's mission includes serving and working with a wide range of audiences beyond the boundaries of the campus.
"For several decades now the City of Rhinelander has opened its doors, offering us the chance to collaborate with the Northern Arts Council, the Rhinelander school district, chamber of commerce and mayor's office, the American Association of University Women and other community leaders and organizations," Thompson adds. "I like to think that this ongoing relationship has served all of us quite well."
More than 300 people-from high-school juniors through retirees, from beginners to advanced practitioners-will be in Rhinelander this July 29-August 2, for 70 workshops in the visual arts, music, photography, theatre and drama, writing, dance, movement and relaxation, and computer skills. The students represent more than half of Wisconsin's counties (last year, for example, participants came from 43 of 72 counties) and nearly a dozen surrounding states.
This summer's lineup of over 40 instructors includes these three featured artists:
Patrick McCarthy, a New York-based actor, director and playwright who has numerous film and TV acting credits and vast experience with such theatrical companies as Boston Chamber Theatre, Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival, Northern Lights Playhouse and many others.
Robert Wolf, whose writing workshops-which included farmers, homeless people, and small-town residents-have been featured on "CBS Sunday Morning" and "All Things Considered." Wolf's books include Jump Start: How to Write from Everyday Life, Hell Hound on My Trail (poems) and two books on jazz; he also edited American Mosaic: Prose and Poetry by Everyday Folk, an anthology of pieces from his workshops.
The Last Gasp, ensemble-in-residence. This Madison-based contra-dance band blends traditional Canadian, Irish and American fiddle music with contemporary innovations to create an infectious "swing" sound. They play at contra dances, concerts, workshops and festivals all over the Midwest, New England, and beyond, and are experienced teachers of music and dance. Their first CD, "Good to the Last Gasp," came out in 1998.
The residencies of these featured artists are supported in part by grants from the Northern Arts Council of Rhinelander.
To learn more about the 39th annual School of the Arts, phone Kathy Berigan at 608-263-3494; e-mail Ms. Berigan ; visit the School of the Arts Web site; or write to School of the Arts at Rhinelander, Attn: Kathy Berigan, 715 Lowell Center, 610 Langdon St., Madison, WI 53703-1195.