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Arts Initiative names Mark Clague inaugural executive director

Hanna Quinlan

Mark Clague

The University of Michigan’s Arts Initiative has named Mark Clague, professor of music and associate dean for collaborations and partnerships in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, as its inaugural executive director following a national search.

Clague, who also is director of U-M’s Gershwin Initiative and has been the initiative’s interim executive director since September 2023, will begin his five-year appointment July 1.

The Arts Initiative, launched in 2019 by the Office of the President, is a universitywide endeavor to make the arts central to U-M’s identity and mission. It seeks to illuminate and expand human connections, inspire collaborative creativity, and build a more just and equitable world through the arts.

As executive director, Clague will lead efforts to engage all U-M students, faculty and staff, bring artists to campus, and support and amplify the arts across the state and region.

“I look forward to a continued partnership with Professor Clague, and I am confident that his background and leadership experience will be outstanding resources as we continue to elevate and extend the impact of the arts at Michigan,” said Sara Blair, vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, arts and humanities.

In a June 19 email to the U-M arts community, Blair wrote that, in his interim role, Clague has brought experience in public-facing arts projects and has shaped a number of the university’s programs and events, including:

“U-M’s Arts Initiative is already a national model, showcasing the power of the arts for all as a catalyst to learning and research in higher education,” Clague said.

“I am thrilled and honored to serve in this new role partnering with a campus community that embraces both art’s ability to spark joy, delight and wonder, as well as its power to innovate ideas and build connections.

“Art helps all of us to discover a bit more about ourselves, to be more open to new understandings, to lean towards compassion, and to cultivate our essential humanity.”

Clague’s research focuses on the history of music-making in the United States and the critical question of how music forges and shapes our social relationships, as both artistic expression and an everyday tool for living.

Additionally, he received an inaugural National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar fellowship and has served as chair of UMS’ Education Committee, board president of the Great Lakes Performing Arts Associates, chair of the Society for American Music’s outreach council, and on the Sphinx Organization’s advisory board.

Clague holds dual undergraduate degrees from U-M in history of art and bassoon performance, and he received his Master of Arts in historical musicology and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago.

Original story from the University Record.