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The art of communication

Making arts information at MIT more accessible
A promotional poster launched this semester showcases the broad range of arts at MIT. Thanks to a series of technological upgrades, it is becoming easier to get information about art events at the Institute.
A promotional poster launched this semester showcases the broad range of arts at MIT. Thanks to a series of technological upgrades, it is becoming easier to get information about art events at the Institute.
Image / Adam Larson

MIT is making it easier for students, faculty and staff to learn about the hundreds of energizing performances, lectures and other art events taking place at the Institute.

A new messaging service rolled out this semester gives users up-to-the-minute information about the arts at MIT. For example, users who want to know what is happening in the arts on a given day but who aren't near a computer can text "arts@mit" to 617-785-9844 and receive a message of times and locations of all the art events occurring that day.

The service, MANGO Text, was designed by three enterprising MIT graduate students in response to the growth of rapid-fire wireless text messaging.

"More and more of what we want to do online is now available through phones," said MANGO Text's Sonya Huang, a graduate student in urban studies and planning. "MANGO will let busy students find out about the latest events while on the go."

The listings available over the messaging service are taken from the newly revamped and searchable online arts events calendar at, which has a direct link from the MIT homepage. The calendar has been redesigned to better meet the needs of the MIT community, which are constantly evolving in this digital age of mass communication. Changing spotlights on the calendar highlight inspiring performances, lectures and exhibitions each week.

From the internationally recognized public art collection to the more than 60 performance groups, the arts are alive and blooming at MIT. Students, faculty, staff and visitors alike are attending events--most of which are free--all over campus. In November alone, there were more than 100 events to choose from, including the drag king troupe Nappy Grooves' Performing Blackness workshop, a talk by artist/performer David Robbins on new styles of entertainment fostered by the digital revolution, Vikram Chandra reading from his new book "Sacred Games," the Boston jazz saxophonist and composer Charlie Kohlhase performing with the Festival Jazz Ensemble and the Shakespeare Ensemble's performance of "Titus Andronicus." There are also the ongoing public art tours, exhibitions at the List Visual Arts Center and the newly expanded MIT Museum, and many other cultural and art opportunities.

In addition to the messaging service and the revamped arts calendar, an arts blog, ARTALK, will soon be available through the popular MIT admissions web site. The blog will focus on the active arts scene at MIT as students, faculty and staff will discuss exhibitions or concerts they have attended, courses they are enrolled in, plays they have acted in or any other art-related activities or ideas worth blogging about.

"It's about getting the MIT perspective out there," said freshman Ken Haggerty, student coordinator of the arts blog and editor of Rune. "There are so many art events to go to and classes to take, and I'm hoping ARTALK will show not only how strong our art community is but also a distinctively MIT interpretation of the arts."

Lori Gross, director of arts initiatives and adviser to the associate provost, explained that the communications -changes are part of a strategic push to emphasize the role of the arts at the -Institute.

At the same time as they advance the communication of arts information at MIT, Associate Provost Philip S. Khoury, Gross and other MIT arts proponents are examining the role of the arts at the Institute. A new mission statement, drafted this fall by the Creative Arts Council's communications subcommittee, seeks to position the essential role of the arts at MIT:

The arts at MIT are rooted in risk-taking and problem-solving, connecting creativity across boundaries and shaping a lifetime of exploration and discovery. The languages and processes of the arts, the mind and hand, mens et manus, are essential to rethinking the challenges of the 21st century to build a better society.

Look for the arts blog beginning in January. To learn more about the arts at MIT, go to

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 12, 2007 (download PDF).

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