Upcoming Spacey visit to highlight art’s importance beyond Charlottesville

'House of Cards' star to fill John Paul Jones Arena on Oct. 18

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The second installment of the President’s Speaker Series for the Arts will bring actor Kevin Spacey to John Paul Jones Arena Oct. 18. This event follows last year’s address by University alumna Tina Fey.

Like last year’s event, efforts to bring revered arts leaders to Grounds were orchestrated by Jody Kielbasa, the vice provost for the arts, in conjunction with the University’s Arts Advisory Committee, which includes various directors and chairs of community arts programs, as well as University President Teresa Sullivan.

The choice to extend an invitation to Spacey stemmed from his extensive career as a versatile and steadfast arts ambassador.

“I was inspired to have Spacey be our second speaker about a year and a half ago,” Kielbasa said. “I was surfing channels late at night and came upon his plans to appeal before Congress on the importance of the National Endowment of the Arts.”

Besides Spacey’s undaunted commitment to arts awareness at the national level, his influence broadens far beyond the international appeal of his career. Student arts leaders believe his widened scope will inform a local audience about the power of avenues University programs travel down numerous times a semester.

“Spacey is the Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theatre in London, so he may have an interesting perspective on the potency of theater on a larger scale,” said Drama Department Publicity Manager Jacqueline Ford, a third-year College student and vice president of the Virginia Players. “I’m sure his words will inspire members of arts groups in various ways.”

Kevin Spacey also is the founder of the Kevin Spacey Foundation, which sparks and funds programs to enrich universities’ association with, and enthusiastic commitment to, the arts.

“He has moved brilliantly as an artist through a variety of mediums and has made opportunities available for rising artists,” said Virginia Players President Kristina McCloskey, a fourth-year College student.

“The old cliché of believing artists can’t reasonably pursue their passions as a career needs to die out,” McCloskey said. This assertion stems from the illustrious successes shared by both Fey and Spacey, and their willingness to articulate their hard work and devotion to eager audiences.

“I’d argue that the arts are our nation’s most valuable export,” Kielbasa said. “I believe students shouldn’t be just inwardly focused on their time spent at the University, but be also thinking of how art can shape their future.”

With Spacey’s willingness to promote the profundity of art both on and off the screen, the same impactful promotion can be expected in October.

Ford predicts his talk will create “a ripple effect throughout the student body until eventually the students become the professionals, and then they are asked to come back to speak.”

Whether future Speaker Series entertain this possibility remains to be seen, but Kielbasa foresees a bright tomorrow for the program regardless.

“Our first two Presidential Speakers for the Arts were leaders in the entertainment industry,” Kielbasa said. “I wouldn’t be opposed to attempting to bring in recognized leaders in music, art, architecture or literature.”

For Kielbasa, and quite possibly the larger arts-minded populace in Charlottesville, as long as our community remains engaged in this important dialogue, the possibilities are endless.

As for possible surprises from the “House of Cards” star, “I think we’re all hoping that he’ll drop into his Frank Underwood drawl at one point or another,” McCloskey said.

Spacey’s forthcoming arrival on Grounds has already generated tremendous feedback from the University community and beyond. Tickets are still available for the Oct. 18 event via the Arts Box Office, the Box Office in Observatory Hill Dining Hall and through Ticketmaster online.


Published September 4, 2014



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