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12/27/2017 7:21:00 PM
Breaking down barriers: Head of BSU School of Music looks to bring arts to community
Ryan Hourigan is the director of the School of Music at Ball State University. (Photo: Corey Ohlenkamp)
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Ryan Hourigan is the director of the School of Music at Ball State University. (Photo: Corey Ohlenkamp)

Jeff Ward, Star Press Columnist

MUNCIE — Sometimes it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. They have a fierce determination that belies their outward appearance and personality.

That’s how one could describe Ryan Hourigan, Ball State University’s director of the School of Music and a music education teacher.

He was a panelist earlier this year in the second Better Together Forum at Minnetrista, which focused on arts and culture in Muncie and Ball State, and how to leverage the power of the many organizations involved in the arts community. Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns, also a panelist, initiated three forums to learn more about the Muncie community, and how Ball State can improve the quality of life here.

Why is that important? Because Hourigan gives the impression he doesn’t like to hear just talk. At the conclusion of the arts and culture forum, Hourigan promised to take action. And he’s delivering. He’s made a career of knocking down barriers that prevent students and communities from reaching their full potential.

“I’ve been to a lot of panels and things in my career. I always get frustrated when we don’t have action steps at the end,” he said. “That’s why at the end (of the forum) I promised to do X and Y and we’ll see if it sticks or not.”

Last month, Hourigan helped organize an art expo at Emens Auditorium, one of the things mentioned in the forum that Muncie needed. It was a free event open to the public, with all of the community art leaders invited to participate. A directory of participants with contact information will allow for future collaboration among art groups. 

It’s all part of an effort to break through an invisible but all-too-real wall between Muncie and campus. “I think that it’s important for us to figure out ways – even though we do fair amount of outreach – we need to figure out a way to break down barriers to make people in the community feel welcome and not intimidated by campus.”

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