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CFA alliance to increase abroad opportunities for artists

Members of Boston University’s College of Fine Arts will have more opportunities for overseas work and experiences after an alliance with TransCultural Exchange to be formally announced in February, according to a Tuesday CFA release.

The release stated the alliance between BU and TransCultural Exchange will be formally announced Feb. 20 at a press conference and pre-release party titled “A Toast to the World.”

TransCultural Exchange gives post-graduate artists like painters, musicians and writers the opportunity to go abroad and live with other artists to develop their skills in a new culture, said Mary Sherman, director of TransCultural Exchange.

“TransCultural Exchange is working with BU to help bridge the gap between academic experience and real world experience,” Sherman said. “We are helping students and faculty make connections with schools and artists around the world.”

Sherman said post-graduate art students typically go within their first year after graduating from college, but emerging and seasoned artists can participate in a residency program at any point in their career.

Diane Fargo, a full-time faculty member in CFA’s Theater Department, said the opportunities from the alliance will make studying abroad either during or after college more feasible for students who have not been abroad.

“We pretty much travel all over the world in my [History of Architecture] class and pique their interest so they want to go abroad,” Fargo said. “[The alliance] is fantastic and most students would benefit from a programs like that — even if it is only a week.”

If students are unsure about the path they wish to take with their CFA major, this program will help them figure out a plan, Fargo said.

BU plans to host the 2013 Conference on International Opportunities in the Arts from Oct. 10 to Oct. 13, according to the release. TransCultural Exchange gathers hundreds of prospective traveling artists, professors and students every two years.

“People come because this is the one place they can get this kind of information. There is no other conference like this in the world,” Sherman said.

Hailey Markman, a CFA junior who is transferring into COM, said the trips BU will offer with TransCulture Exchange will allow students to develop as individuals and as artists.

“These trips would absolutely make me better because I would be studying alongside someone with the same passion,” she said. “It definitely helps you grow as you collaborate with someone.”

Markman said because everything we see around us informs our art — whether writing or singing — having different experiences has helped her add more depth to her final products.

“You can’t truly sing a song about having traveled the world with credibility if you haven’t been over the ocean,” Markman said.

Laura Hwang, a CFA sophomore studying piano performance, said she likely will not have a chance to go abroad.

She said learning that BU and TransCultural Exchange are collaborating makes her hopeful she can study overseas but the cost is holding her back.

“I would pay money just to go abroad, but if there was opportunity for me to perform and be an actual musician here, that would be cool,” Hwang said. “… I would want to work as hard as possible to grow as a musician, so it’s appealing that I would be working with professionals.”

Hwang said people go abroad to obtain a better understanding of what living in another culture is like, particularly in the musical community

“Once students are starting to specialize, that’s a time to go across the pond,” said Caroline Olsen, a CFA junior studying vocal performance. “It’s really important for musicians to get a global perspective because we’re always going to work with people all over, and we must understand other cultures and the music they create.”

Olsen said TransCultural Exchange offers similar opportunities to other programs, but going abroad with this organization will offer a more complete experience for artists.

“If you want to very literally learn how to play your instrument better, then I would tell you to not waste your money on a big plane ticket, especially if you’re going to an expensive European city,” Olsen said. “The truth is, music is more than just technique. Music is all about the cultural context and there is no comparison to the depth of understanding you can get from an abroad experience.”

CORRECTION: The article initially reported the name of the group as TransCulture Exchange. However, the proper name of the group is TransCultural Exchange. The article has been updated to reflect the correction.

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