Website streamlines art listings

From a student-directed musical to an exhibition of botanical illustrations, publicity for Yale’s arts scene is getting an upgrade with a new online calendar.

The calendar, released by the Yale College Dean’s Office in early October, was created to consolidate information on the University’s diverse arts opportunities in one place, University officials said. Associate Dean for the Arts Susan Cahan said an important feature of the calendar is its user-controlled content: anyone with a NetID can add information about upcoming events.

“Our ultimate goal is to make the Yale Arts Calendar a primary nexus point for arts interest across the Yale community, New Haven and beyond,” Derek Webster ’99, senior administrative assistant to the dean of the arts, said.

Cahan said that the calendar was created not because the arts were underexposed on campus, but rather because there were so many websites devoted to chronicling them. She said that in the course of her research for the calendar, she found around 90 websites each with a goal of publicizing a separate area of the arts.

As a centralized information system, Cahan said she believes the website will make choosing between each night’s numerous arts activities easier for students and visitors.

“What we discovered when we were initially researching this is that every program, every professional school, every center, every student organization had their own calendar,” Cahan said. “Unless you were willing to put in a lot of research time … it was virtually impossible to know what was going on campus on any given night.”

Eight students interviewed said they feel the calendar will be a big step forward for arts on campus.

“We will now use it to publicize all our plays,” Dramat copresident Lily Lamb-Atkinson ’12 wrote in an email. “I think the calendar will help student arts groups widen the reach of their events.”

Charlie Croom ’12, who worked as a student advisor to the Dean’s Office during the calendar’s design, said that the Dean’s Office worked hard to gather student perspectives when creating the calendar.

People both at Yale and off campus have already begun to use the calendar on a regular basis, Croom added.

“I already know a few people, students and community members, who refer to the calendar for ideas of things to do on a given night,” Croom said. “One guy from New York actually checks out the calendar to decide which weekends to visit. I hope that its lasting impact will be generating more arts-oriented events on campus and helping to get the word out about the incredible variety of performances and creative events that occur on a daily basis at Yale.”

Another objective of the calendar is to encourage interdisciplinary sharing of arts information, Cahan said. Heightened exposure might lead to a greater number of cross-program projects and activities, she said.

Once the calendar’s goals had been laid out, School of Art Critic Dan Michaelson ART ’02 and Tamara Maletic, cofounders of the web design firm Linked by Air, took up the site’s design. In 2005, Michaelson redesigned the School of Art’s website, which also allows students to update the page’s background and content.

Michaelson said that his main goal when designing the calendar was to organize the information in a way that would allow users to easily find activities that piqued their interest.

“As well as being highly usable, we wanted the graphic design of this calendar to feel a little bit creative and open-minded,” Michaelson said.

As for generating content, Webster said that the Dean’s Office has been actively publicizing the calendar to arts organizations, the Yale College Council and the Office of Public Affairs and Communication in order to kickstart event submissions.

The arts calendar can be found at artscalendar.yale.edu.

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