I worked this week at Viterbo Campus in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The project was again focused on Arts Integration. There were 30 people — Viterbo Faculty, Students, Teachers, School and University Leadership, and Community Leaders. We were together for the three days, exploring together essential items to include in a second application for grant funding. I’ve written previously about this group here.
At the beginning of the week, I heard an interesting story that I haven’t heard before about the Fine Arts Building. You see, Viterbo is a small campus. It was started 125 years ago by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, whose convent is through the courtyard and across the street. Forty years ago, there was only one other building on campus. The Sisters, with their commitment to the arts for the school and for the community, committed to supporting this building. I can imagine that there were several other choices. Perhaps a building to expand their commitment to education or to healthcare. They chose Fine Arts. I’m also told that the sisters ate from a food supply — canned potatoes, vegetables, etc — to help save for the building.
Rather impressive, no? I’m really impressed that in the context of prudence, practicality, and all the other pressures that may have been present, they chose to support the arts.