NORMAN — The future of fine arts at the University of Oklahoma is strong but will need the continued support of the state, corporations and arts patrons to remain strong in the years to come, says Rich Taylor, dean of the University of Oklahoma’s Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts.
“In the decades ahead, the arts in the schools, community and at flagship universities like OU will be a key component for attracting new businesses and residents to an area, as part of a broad, balanced and flourishing community environment,” Taylor said.
The arts inspire, which allows for “the nurturing and celebration of originality and risk-taking,” Taylor said.
“The tools that the arts develop, such as creativity, flexibility, discipline and communication, empower the dreamers and visionaries of the world to think outside the box.”
To move forward, Taylor said, the arts at universities must remain vibrant and relevant by engaging more participants at all levels and by presenting the highest quality performances of both the classics and the more popular art forms to attract a broad audience, Taylor said.
As fine arts dean, Taylor said he feels a deep responsibility to nurture student artists, as well as introduce the arts to other students.
For some students, Taylor said, “their first exposure to fine arts might be here on campus. They may never have seen a live performance before. It’s up to us to make that a quality performance.”
When it comes to fine arts, Taylor said, “I’m bullish about promoting the arts. I’m thrilled to be back in Oklahoma in a role where I can contribute to the development and appreciation of fine arts in the state.”
Out of retirement
Taylor, an Enid native, spent nearly three decades as a corporate executive for Disney before retiring in 2007.
Shortly thereafter, he was coaxed out of retirement by OU regent Max Weitzenhoffer, who wanted him to serve as dean of OU’s School of Musical Theatre. A year later he was persuaded to take over as dean of the fine arts college.
“I wouldn’t have come back here if I didn’t think this state was a fertile place for artists to succeed, learn and grow,” Taylor said.