In the recent, annual release by the U.S. News & World Report concerning top colleges in America, Virginia Tech rose to a top 20 institution position amongst all public universities. With a major, university-wide focus on research and innovation, Virginia Tech garnered a No. 25 ranking in the “Most Innovative Schools” category.

With this honorable distinction, we are called to expand our view of what fields flourish with research and innovation. I believe that the arts are the nexus of research and innovation.

The positive impact of the arts has been measured in quantitative ways. In “study after study, arts participation and arts education have been associated with improved cognitive, social, and behavioral outcomes in individuals across the lifespan.”

Cristian Randieri, a Forbes Council Member, says that we can “stimulate innovation [by] combin[ing] two seemingly unrelated fields: scientific research and the arts… rather than being mutually exclusive, innovators can combine art and science can be connected to create something that is both beautiful and functional.” The process of innovation requires the merging of perspectives and possibilities, and the arts enhance our ability to do just that. Debra Kaye, an innovation expert, said to Politico, that “great innovators make connections between seemingly unrelated observations to uncover unique insights.” The “arts, like innovation, are all about making connections.”

If Virginia Tech values research and innovation, then it must continue to increase the value of the arts through greater visibility. The arts can help students with their personal growth, as well as their development as researchers and innovators; but, many students at Virginia Tech don’t realize the abundance of arts opportunities that are available to them.

Since October is National Arts and Humanities Month, a month-long celebration that encourages individuals, communities, and organizations to raise awareness about the significance of art in our lives — let’s use this time to amplify the power of the arts at Virginia Tech! We can celebrate, explore, and advocate for the arts sector by supporting our innovative, creative campus community.

Here are some of the artistic offerings available to all Virginia Tech students:

Visit The Moss Arts Center
“The Moss Arts Center is very committed to Virginia Tech student engagement with the arts, artists, and creative process,” shares Ruth Waalkes, the associate provost for the arts at Virginia Tech and the executive director of the Moss Arts Center.

See a student rush show
They “provide students access to Moss performances with $10 tickets and also free day-of tickets exclusively for VT students. Last year 3,500 students attended our shows, and more than 25% of them did so using the free tickets… and, nearly 2,500 students took part in the 185+ campus-focused engagement activities offered.” This season’s shows range from internationally recognized performing artists, like Vox Luminis, to award-winning lecturers, like Winona LaDuke.

Visit the free galleries
With two, separate galleries at the Moss Arts Center and exhibitions that change every semester, explore the visual arts in a new way! This semester, Laurie Steelink’s “Spirit Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot” is showing in the Miles C. Horton Jr. Gallery and Sherwood Payne Quillen '71 Reception Gallery; and, william cordova’s “can’t stop, won’t stop: tenets of southern alchemy” is on display at the Ruth C. Horton Gallery.

Participate in free workshops with visiting artists
This October, take on a new art form by signing up for a workshop with:

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, 6 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, 1-2:30 p.m.

Volunteer to assist a school day matinee
You could help little learners experience a new medium for the very first time! Kari Heistad, a former teacher and the engagement manager at the Moss Arts Center, said that “through our youth arts education programs, we strive to expose young people to novel art forms, help them to discover their passions within the arts, and provide opportunities for them to engage with art in ways that expand their understanding of themselves, their community, and the world. Throughout the school year, Moss Arts hosts school day matinees for families, schools, and other educational organizations to attend at no cost.”

View the public art installations around campus
We have a variety of public art pieces and galleries that you can visit. Waalkes says that “the Moss Arts Center is expanding arts experiences by developing a program for public art on our campus… Our goal is to identify additional places on campus where public art could enhance and animate our existing built and natural environments, and inspire conversation and creativity.” Write to the ideas competition selection committee and the public art committee about how you would like to see more public art on Virginia Tech’s campus.

A sculpture where four life-sized human figure sculptures sit in contemplative and meditative poses on the benches.
The public art piece, "Think on These Things" by Charlie Brouwer, encourages visitors to sit with the complexities of the history of Solitude and Fraction House. Photo courtesy of Melissa Ripepi.


Tour the Perspective Gallery
With a mission “to expand the student’s conceptual world through art appreciation and to encourage patronage of the arts,” October is the perfect time to view the work of the featured artist, Cierra Evans. You can even join in on a Zoom interview with Evans on Friday, October 13th from 3-4pm.

Support the School of Performing Arts
In October alone, there are nine shows you can attend! These range from a free master class with the critically acclaimed h2 quartet on Oct. 17 to the Progeny Film Festival on Oct. 21. Attend an event and tag the School of Performing Arts’ Instagram with the hashtag #hokiesonstage to join in community with the theatre, cinema, and music students.

Attend an event for Humanities Week
Humanities Week, which is sponsored by the Center for Humanities and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, has a variety of free events for students.

Listen to a lecture
George Chochos: Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m.
George Chochos’s keynote address, "From Jail to Yale: Education is Humanization in the Carceral Context and Beyond" will focus on prison education initiatives and the power of a humanities education.

Experience a performance
There will be a remounting of the 2018 performance piece Poe’s Shadows: An Immersive Theatrical Installation.

Support the University Choirs Concert on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, Moss Arts Center.

Join an arts-focused student group
There are countless campus advocates you can join forces with to express your love of the arts on and off campus.

Let Virginia Tech know how valuable you consider the arts and support the countless artistic innovators who are making, devising, creating, performing, designing, collaborating, directing, and researching in our campus community this October.

Liz Gray is a graduate student in the M.F.A. in Theatre in Arts Leadership program at Virginia Tech.