COLLEGE PARK, Md - The University of Maryland, College of Arts & Humanities' Dean Stephanie Shonekan has announced the appointment of School of Music Associate Professor Craig Kier as the new director of Arts for All, effective September 1, 2023.
Kier will be the second director of the campuswide Arts For All initiative, which launched in 2021 and is one of President Darryll J. Pines’ five bold actions to “move Maryland forward.” Arts for All aims to leverage the power of the arts, technology and social justice to address societal challenges collaboratively. Kier succeeds Patrick Warfield, the inaugural Arts for All director, who became the director of the School of Music at the University of Minnesota this summer.
“Craig’s record of collaboration across campus, such as his work exploring the intersection between the arts and virtual reality, made him a great pick for the position,” Dean Shonekan said. “He is committed to the mission of Arts for All and has excellent ideas for the next chapter of the initiative. I'm excited to see him step into this role and continue the momentum that has already brought Arts for All to a wide-ranging community.”
As director of Arts for All, Kier will be responsible for raising the visibility of the arts disciplines at UMD (including music, theater, dance, visual art, creative writing and design), expanding student access and engagement with arts programming, growing innovative partnerships with science and technology disciplines across campus and building community connections that utilize the arts to promote equity and justice.
A self-described “believer in the power of the arts to connect everyone together,” Kier wants to have people more readily talking about the arts as a central part of what we do at Maryland.
“This is such an important initiative,” Kier said. “It has both grassroots support and a strong endorsement from President Pines and Provost Rice. I am committed to deepening connections to the entire community and making sure that Arts for All is a tangible source of pride for the university.”
With recent Supreme Court decisions related to affirmative action, gay rights, abortion, guns and climate change, Kier said that the arts are critical to addressing social justice, providing ways for people to feel seen and for diverse perspectives to be heard.
“Artists have never created in a vacuum, but rather respond to the society and larger world in which they live,” Kier said. “The arts provide an outlet for us to explore, consider and process the challenges of our time.”
Kier’s vision for the future of Arts for All includes engaging every academic school and college to invite and encourage further collaboration with general education courses and new majors, bringing the arts and creative perspectives to all disciplines.
“I am Interested in long-term sustained change. My hope is that Arts for All becomes a model for what a major research institution can do in the arts,” Kier shared.
One of the core benefits of more deeply integrating arts into the university’s curricula is the contribution the arts bring to fostering collaboration and creative thinking, qualities critical to addressing today’s grand challenges.
“In many of the new buildings on campus, you see space dedicated as a center for collaboration. Artistic endeavors are incredibly collaborative and build skills that map to success in many careers, including in the STEM areas,” Kier said.
Since becoming the director of the Maryland Opera Studio at the University of Maryland, Kier has expanded the footprint of the program’s activities, connecting the curriculum and programming to areas across campus and beyond. In addition to his work as a conductor, his research includes the exploration of combining virtual reality with diverse musical genres to increase access to music and how such technologies can be utilized in medicine. His research related to the use of VR representations of artistic performances to reduce hospital patients’ need for drugs to control pain and anxiety has been published in the journal Pain and presented at virtual reality conferences throughout the United States.
With his new role as Arts for All director, Kier will transition to the role of advisor for the Maryland Opera Studio. Since 2020, he has served as artistic and music director of the Annapolis Opera, where he continues to lead performances, programming and community engagement activities.
Kier’s recent conducting highlights include productions with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program, Wolf Trap Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Arizona Opera, Houston Ballet, the Brevard Music Center’s Janiec Opera Company, Anchorage Opera, Indianapolis Opera, and Opera Saratoga. He also previously served on the music staffs of the Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Atlanta Opera, Opera Colorado and Des Moines Metro Opera.