Arts Advocates: Janice F. Smith


Q&A with Janice F. Smith

Janice Smith is a longtime advocate for the arts in Orange County, having served on the board of the Bowers Museum, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, and the John Wayne Airport Arts Commission. She served on the Claire Trevor School of the Arts Dean’s Arts Board from 2005 to 2020 and sponsored numerous students through the Medici Circle Scholarship Program. In 2005, she received the campus’s highest honor, the UCI Medal.

Q. How did your passion for the arts start?

JS: Music has always been a love of mine. I was a music major my college freshman year at Wesleyan in Macon, Georgia, before transferring to Kansas State and changing my major to elementary education. My involvement in Orange County’s arts actually began on one of my children’s school field trips to the Bowers Museum. I enjoyed it so much that I went back and volunteered as a docent, and eventually joined the board of the museum.

Q.  You support many arts organizations across Orange County. Why do you feel it’s important for others to support the arts?

JS: I get so much enjoyment from the arts personally, and I think we all do. It’s important to support because the government can’t be expected to fully support it, and the arts are not usually a money-making proposition. It depends on people who enjoy the arts to support them. The arts are the joy of life, and that’s something that we need more of, especially now.

Q. How did you become involved with CTSA?

JS: When my husband Ted and I first moved here, we had to go to Los Angeles to see any live performances. But when the university was being built, we were very interested in the programs. I remember we got lost once driving out to try and see the construction of the campus! From the very beginning, we wanted to get involved with UCI, Ted in the business and computer science schools and the UCI Foundation, and me with the arts.  

Q. CTSA’s theme for this academic year focuses on arts and wellbeing. What are your thoughts on how arts enrich the human experience and support wellbeing?

JS: I feel very strongly that art plays a big part in wellbeing. Art can be soothing or exciting and connect with emotions in a way that’s unlike anything else. Especially now, when we are sheltered at home and cannot do some of the things we like to do, and we have a lot of time on our hands, arts can be helpful. CTSA and the Pacific Symphony have something almost every day for us to enjoy from home. I’ve even gone back to playing the piano, which I haven’t done since I was 7 or 8. It’s a good feeling for the soul and the brain.

Q. You’ve been a longtime supporter of the Medici Circle Scholarship Program, which provides CTSA students opportunities in our community and around the world. Why is it important to you to support the next generation of creative leaders?

JS: I think the Medici Circle Scholarship Program is a wonderful way to provide deserving students the opportunity to focus on a specific project during their summer vacation. The projects they undertake help them build their portfolios and their artistic vision. The accomplishments they make have an important impact on the creative paths they take. As an example, I followed three Medici scholars this summer. Jesús  López Vargas led a creative team to produce a trilingual video project called “Zu Sein.” Feyintoluwa Ekisola wrote her play “Ma Binu!” which tells the story of an African immigrant family through the hopeful eyes of a young woman. Paul David Flood wrote the dissertation for his M.F.A., which focuses on Danish composer Per Nørgård and how his musical work in the 1980s was influenced by the schizophrenic painter Adolf Wölfli.

As a Medici Circle supporter I was fortunate to hear these students talk about their plans in June and read their full reports in the early fall.

To learn more about ways to support CTSA, contact Sarah Strozza, Director of Development, at 949-824-0629 or

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CONNECT - Winter 2021

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