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Saldivar named interim director of UW Arts Institute

September 26, 2007

Norma Saldivar, who heads the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Directing Program in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Theatre and Drama, has been appointed interim executive director of the UW–Madison Arts Institute.

"I look forward to working with Norma on our collective efforts to enhance and promote the arts at UW–Madison," says Julie Underwood, dean of the School of Education, who chairs the Arts Institute’s Deans Council. "The arts are a vital part of this campus. The School of Education, the College of Letters and Science, and the School of Human Ecology, through the Arts Institute, are dedicated to the mission of sharing what we do with the campus community and the general public."

Saldivar succeeds Susan C. Cook, professor of music, who has served as director since 2005 and recently became the associate dean for the arts and humanities in the Graduate School. The Arts Institute’s executive director position is held by a full-time faculty member on a half-time basis.

In her nine years at UW–Madison, Saldivar, an associate professor of directing, has served as director of University Theatre and is an affiliate faculty member of the Chicano/a Studies Program and member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. She served on the Arts Institute’s executive committee 2002-06 and participated in the Madison Overture Center concerts developed in collaboration with the Chancellor’s Concerts.

"I plan to work with the executive committee to see through initiatives that were instituted during Susan’s tenure," Saldivar says. "I will continue to support and advocate for all of the programming during the time we’re in search for the permanent director."

The Arts Institute was created as an inter-college unit, sponsored by the College of Letters and Science, School of Education, and School of Human Ecology, to speak as a collective voice of the arts to the university and external constituents. The institute is perhaps best known for its series of arts residencies, which brings to campus performers, writers, composers, and artists from a variety of disciplines. The institute also sponsors and supports programs such as Arts Night Out, scheduled for Oct. 13 this year, and the popular Wisconsin Film Festival, as well as fellowships and awards, public programming and outreach for the university and general public.

"I have very strong feelings about the wonderful, successful programs the institute has put together over the years," Saldivar says. "I’m excited to be back as part of this group of fascinating, interesting, successful departments."

Originally from Chicago, Saldivar earned her MFA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with an emphasis in directing, and bachelor of fine arts in acting from Illinois Wesleyan University. She has worked as a freelance stage director and member of the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre artistic staff, and has served as casting director, dramaturge, and producer for productions in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Milwaukee.

She has directed several critically acclaimed works and Midwestern premieres. She has taught master classes and led workshops at several universities, including University of Southern California, UCLA, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Whitewater.

At UW–Madison, Saldivar has directed a variety of productions, ranging from political to musical theatre. She has received awards for her new play development and for excellence in teaching. Regionally and nationally, she continues to direct new and contemporary works with an emphasis on plays that express the female voice and Latino/Chicano theatre. She serves on several arts advisory boards, councils and grant reviewing committees.