Bright Idea

Norma Saldivar helps shine a light on UW arts

As executive director of the UW Arts Institute, Norma Saldivar is used to forging connections: among departments at the university, between faculty and students and with guest artists. She never knows what will come from bringing groups together, but she’s seen collaborations form, projects start and new life breathed into work.

Saldivar, who also teaches theater and drama, is hoping for similar results as the institute hosts Illuminate: UW–Madison Year of the Arts. The event draws from university departments as well as programs, theaters, museums, faculty, students, alumni and guest artists for a yearlong celebration of creativity on and emanating from campus.

“We live in a really extraordinary community,” says Saldivar. “There’s so much creativity.”

The goal of Year of the Arts isn’t just to connect within the university, but to share what’s going on with the broader Madison community. From an opening ceremony in September to an arts homecoming in April, a diversity of lectures, performances, concerts and exhibitions shine a spotlight on the arts and illustrate how they transcend disciplines, politics and geographical boundaries.

In all, more than four hundred events will take place across campus. Yet this abundance of art is hardly unusual, Saldivar says.

“We want everyone to know this is ongoing,” she says. “For us, it’s always the year of the arts.”

For more information on UW Year of the Arts, visit

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.



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