Grant will help University of Iowa museums and libraries spread art and programming even in pandemic

A collaboration between four University of Iowa-based institutions will soon help bring their programming to wider audiences who can’t access them during the pandemic.

The Stanley Museum of Art, the Office of the State archaeologist, the Pentacrest Museums and University Libraries are partnering on the project, which secured a $200,327 grant to expand their senior programming in Southeast Iowa.

The money will be used to digitize collections from the four institutions and to create virtual events that senior living facilities can do with their residents. They also will record events, such as talks with scholars or art projects. The recordings will be available to access anytime online.

“We have about 4 million objects in our collection,” said Elizabeth Reetz, director of strategic initiatives at the Office of the State archaeologist. “We’ll be taking high-quality images of a lot of our objects and writing interpretation and question guides that can go with them … We have a lot of photographs digitized but haven’t had the time and money to really ramp up digitizing objects before now … The Pentacrest and UI Libraries are getting special cameras to do 3D tours of their galleries.”

She’s already been doing digital outreach during the pandemic, holding online lectures and discussions with archaeologists. This will be a chance to expand that effort.

“Since the pandemic, we’ve all been dabbling in this. It’s been a really short time to learn new ways of engagement and outreach,” she said. “Before, my office in particular spent a lot of time traveling to give in-person and classroom classes, and that all stopped.”

The grant is funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which set aside money for museums and libraries responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The grant also will help pay salaries for project staff

Meet Alice Valdez, a local musician providing art programming for underserved communities

HOUSTON – For some students in Houston, music, art, dance or theater programming may not always be available in school. However, one community-based non-profit organization is committed to underserved youth and adults in the city.

Known as the Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts (MECA), the organization founded by Alice Valdez provides cultural programming, education resources, community building and events to more than 4,000 students and families each year.

With a mission to help build discipline, self-esteem and cultural pride, MECA founder and Executive Director Alice Valdez has proudly served our community for more than 40 years.

Alice Valdez
Alice Valdez (Copyright Forest Photography 2019.)

Born in El Paso, Texas, Alice Valdez began her music career in elementary school.

“My mother decided that all of us were going to play instruments,” recalled Valdez, founder of MECA.

Valdez began with the clarinet and picked up the oboe in middle school. It wasn’t until college when she began focusing on her career in music with the help of her college professor.

“I started taking oboe lessons from Mr. Henderson from the University of Texas-El Paso. He was the theory teacher and the oboe teacher there,” stated Valdez. “He was just such a strong influence and such a wonderful educator that he really influenced me to go study art and music education.”

Alice Valdez at a MECA event
Alice Valdez at a MECA event (Pin Lim, Forest Photography)

With a dedication to the arts and music education, Valdez would begin a new opportunity in Houston with a focus on minorities and underprivileged communities in the Sixth Ward.

“Some schools had a band, some schools had orchestras, some schools didn’t have a band or orchestras. All they had was maybe visual art and general music,” said Valdez. “Obviously, the suburban schools had much stronger programs, and the inner city programs where

Richard Tang: Zen and the art of internet maintenance

The world has come full circle for Richard Tang over the course of 25 years. The 54-year-old founder and executive chairman of Britain’s oldest internet service provider argues that two very different types of crisis have determined his company’s trajectory.

Zen Internet was founded in 1995 after Mr Tang and his brother came up with the idea over a few pints of beer in a pub in their home town of Rochdale, an old mill town a few miles north of Manchester, and gambled that internet access was destined for the mainstream. Having launched the business, Mr Tang lived in fear that a large group such as BT would spot an opportunity to dominate the nascent market for internet access and he was right.

Yet it was UK electronics retailer Dixons that pounced. It launched Freeserve in 1998 and scuppered the business model of dozens of internet pioneers by giving away their product for free. “It was my worst nightmare come true,” recalls Mr Tang.

Yet Zen turned heel on the consumer market to focus on a small group of business customers who needed more than just a basic free dial-up connection. The switch paid off as Zen recorded its best year to date, and its first ever profit, having found its niche.

“With threat comes opportunity,” says Mr Tang, citing Confucius, as he reflects on the three main crisis points — the Freeserve launch, the financial crisis and this year’s coronavirus lockdown — that have proved broadband is a resilient business.

Zen has expanded its network over the past year to reach 80 per cent of the country’s population and Mr Tang also brought in a new management team to expand the longstanding niche broadband player into a true challenger brand.

A quarter of a century after it

A.R.T. Announces Fall 2020 Programming Featuring Civically Speaking Discussion Series, Behind the Scenes Series and More

Programming includes That Kindness: Nurses in Their Own Words
With V (Formerly Eve Ensler), The Lunch Room virtual talk show and more.

A.R.T. Announces Fall 2020 Programming Featuring Civically Speaking Discussion Series, Behind the Scenes Series and More

American Repertory Theater has announced virtual Fall 2020 Programming including the Civically Speaking discussion series; the Behind the Scenes series; and Kidding Around family programming.

“A.R.T.’s virtual fall programming engages local artists and amplifies their work in a new series called Virtually OBERON, and also includes special programming for children and their grownups with our new all-ages musical, Jack and the Beanstalk: A Musical Adventure,” said Paulus. “Later this fall, we will be co-producing the world premiere of a new play in partnership with four theaters across the country-stay tuned for details about this exciting project in the coming weeks. We are also offering three conversation series: Behind the Scenes, featuring A.R.T. artists making work; Civically Speaking, examining politics, history, and the meaning of democracy; and The Lunch Room, A.R.T.’s popular weekly talk show.”

“We believe in the transformative potential of shared space and shared experience, and we look forward to inviting audiences back into our spaces for 1776 and other future productions when health and safety guidelines allow. In the meantime, we are excited about partnering with our audiences in new ways this fall,” said Paulus.

Virtually OBERON events and Jack and the Beanstalk will have a suggested ticket price along with a pay-what-you-can option; The Lunch Room and virtual events in the in the Civically Speaking and Behind the Scenes series are free and supported by donations. Tickets can be purchased and registrations secured now for select events at; additional shows and events will be available later this fall.

In addition to the virtual programming and events listed below, A.R.T. is centering several ongoing collaborations and partnerships:

With Lisa Yancey and the Yancey Consulting team,

The Lost Art Of Software

Director of Engineering at Sabal Tech, Inc., overseeing the design and implementation of software that exceeds our customers’ expectations.

“You might not think that programmers are artists, but programming is an extremely creative profession. It’s logic-based creativity.” — John Romero

When we think of software engineers, we envision people with highly technical minds. We may go on to assume that these people did great in math and science courses. We tend to draw these conclusions because we’ve been conditioned to think of software development as a purely technical task. This is not the case, however, and I would even go as far as stating that the development of software is mostly an artistic craft with some highly technical elements sprinkled in.

A successful software product is not engineered once, deployed and forgotten. Rather, it is the result of an ongoing creative process, with its goalposts continually getting pushed further and further away. Every new requirement, experience or technology helps reshape what is considered to be the “final product.” I find that, all too often, many organizations fail to recognize the creativity involved in developing software products. This failure can lead to missed opportunities, curtailed innovation and losing the edge in an increasingly competitive landscape.

The shift away from thinking of programming as an art rather than pure technology did not happen overnight. Think about all of the common terms borrowed from manufacturing that are typically applied to software engineering: builds, architecture, development, defects and even engineering. We’ve even done this in academia when referring to disciplines such as computer science. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not implying that there is nothing scientific or technical about developing software. However, emphasizing only the technical aspects of software development forces it to abide by a strict set of rules that