While the Creative and Performing Arts Awards serve as a tool to help eliminate some of the financial burden of creative arts projects, many students still cite concerns regarding how effective these awards truly are.

The CPA Awards, administered by the Committee on the Creative and Performing Arts of the Council of Heads of College, may be used to support dramas, musicals, dance performances, literary publications, visual art projects, exhibitions and video or film productions. Such programs must take place on campus in order to qualify for funding. The money is not need-based but is instead awarded to any student whose applications are approved by the committee. According to the Yale College Council’s Art Courses Policy Report released this fall, the CPA can be a barrier for some because “not everyone is comfortable with sharing their artwork, especially those taking art courses for the first time.”

“According to the students in the Focus Group, it makes students ‘feel like a charity case’ and like they were ‘being forced to give back to Yale for being funded,’” the report stated.

According to YCC Academic Director Sarah Pitafi ’22, the council believes that there need “to be more concrete routes for FGLI students to be able to enroll in and pay for arts courses.” The YCC is working to create a supply drive to collect any unused and leftover art supplies and make them available for students.

The committee meets twice a year to review student proposals and determine awards. The applicant must coordinate all the finances for a CPA Award. There are limits restricting what exactly the award can fund. For example, the grant cannot be expended for the purchase of equipment or picture frames, computer software, travel or rental of off-campus sites.

The maximum grants available for visual arts, dance, and plays and musicals are $500, $1000, and $1,200 respectively. Up to $1,000 of additional funding may be allotted in order to secure legal rights to perform a play or musical.

“I think the program is a great way for students to fairly easily get some or all of the money they need to cover expenses to make their work, including class work,” Director of Undergraduate Studies in Art Lisa Kereszi said. “Many of my students take advantage of it, and I saw many familiar names from the art major as well as my Intro Photo class on the award list.”

Still, the report noted that some students have criticized the award’s exhibition requirement. In response, Kereszi noted that these exhibitions do not have to be expensive or time-consuming. She added that CPA shows could be as simple as a pop-up event.

“Part of an artist’s job is to solve problems creatively, which should lead to insight and transformation of an idea and materials into something meaningful and poetic, and maybe even beautiful,” Kereszi said.

Another criticism many students cited is that the award is distributed by each residential college, which Pitafi said can lead to a “discrepancy between how each college grants the award.” As such, this lack of consistency leads to different distributions of money granted to projects based on the college.

In addition, the award cannot be used for course fees, a burden that many low-income art students face.

Despite the criticisms, two students interviewed by the News, neither of whom have received the award, still said the CPA Awards are a good way to ease financial burden for the arts and applauded the award for being easy to receive.

Pitafi oversees policy initiatives to “find more concrete alternatives to the CPA” and to “ensure that students have equitable access to arts courses, materials, and opportunities.”

“What I’ve learned through meetings with art students and administrators is that many students who seek assistance in paying for art course fees are directed to use either a CPA or a SafetyNet grant, although neither one’s main purpose is to cover the cost of art course or material fees,” Pitafi said.

The CPA Awards are supported by the Louis Sudler Fund, the Welch Art Fund, and the Bates Fund.

Kelly Wei | kelly.wei@yale.edu