Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University Admitted into the International Theatre Institute

Amanda Castro-Crist

November 5, 2019

The university is one of only two American universities included in the prestigious performing arts organization.

Texas Tech University has become one of just two American institutions to be accepted into a prestigious performing arts network of more than 40 higher education and research institutions around the world.

An initiative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Theatre Institute (ITI), the ITI/UNESCO Network for Higher Education in the Performing Arts focuses on higher education in all performing arts disciplines – including drama, theater, dance, music theater and playwriting – and "creates platforms for international exchange and for engagement in the education of the performing arts, for beginners and professionals alike, as well as using the performing arts for mutual understanding and peace."

The opportunity to be a part of the network was pursued by members of the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts (TCVPA), including Dean Noel Zahler; Mark Charney, director of TCVPA's School of Theatre & Dance; and Cory Norman, director of marketing and communication in the school. The three accepted the admission into the organization at a reception in Shanghai this week.

"Being one of two American universities accepted into ITI puts Texas Tech within an elite group of educators from all over the world who share the mission and potential for cultural exchange and all this implies," Charney said. "It will offer increased opportunities for shared experiences for faculty and students and broaden our perspectives about theater and dance. And, of course, with such exchanges, the world seems a much smaller place."

UNESCO director Sir Julian Huxley and playwright and novelist J.B. Priestly conceived and established ITI in 1948. Their goal was to "build an organization that would focus its endeavors on improving the status of all members of the performing arts professions."

In 2013, the ITI/UNESCO Network for Higher Education in the Performing Arts was chartered within ITI with just over 20 member institutions. Now, more than 40 theater departments around the world collaborate through the network. Georgetown University is the only other American institution admitted to the organization.

"This distinction is vital to giving our students international experiences in the arts with an elite group of institutions," Zahler said. "It will allow our students to work with other member institutions. Students, especially in West Texas, need to understand current and future trends in the arts on a global scale. Our affiliation with UNESCO and ITI serves both our college and the university. Our admission into this prestigious organization raises the visibility of Texas Tech University and places the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts among the leading educational arts institutions on the planet."

To learn more about ITI and the network, visit the ITI website.