The Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives within the Division of Diversity, Equity, & Educational Achievement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison provides culturally relevant and transformative arts programming to promote positive social dialogue and to give cultural art forms a legitimate academic forum. By harnessing the broad cultural influence of spoken word, hip hop and emerging as well as traditional art forms, OMAI’s events and programming create learning environments that directly affect UW-Madison’s campus climate, improving retention and graduation success, preparing future leaders to reinvest in their communities. By continually refreshing this paradigm that integrates traditional academics and cutting edge arts activism, OMAI empowers transnational leaders with new tools for inclusive community building.
One of OMAI’s most prominent initiatives is the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community, a cutting-edge multicultural artistic program for incoming students which offers a four-year full tuition scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bringing together young artists and leaders from across the United States and beyond, the First Wave Learning Community offers students the opportunity to live, study and create together in a close-knit, dynamic campus community. First Wave is the first university program in the country centered on urban arts, spoken word and hip-hop culture.
The Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) is housed in the Division of Diversity Equity and Educational Achievement. OMAI’s initial success with its award-winning Hip Hop in the Heartland Educator’s Institute and the creative energy emanating from its cutting edge programming and activities tied to the urban arts, led the OMAI leadership to propose a student program centered on spoken word and hip hop arts. In 2007, the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community was born and since its inception has attracted diverse, talented student from communities across the country to develop their individual art forms while pursuing degrees in any chosen field. Other programs born out of OMAI are: Getting Real Series, Passing the Mic, Line Breaks, and Just Bust