Celebrate the Arts!

As a liberal arts university, Colgate places great emphasis on a well-rounded, diverse curriculum. Such emphasis includes highlighting activities taking place outside of the classroom, including this week’s Arts! Festival, which will be held to share the accomplishments of the many talented members of Colgate’s artistic community and to spread the word on campus about opportunities available in the arts.

Junior Rachel Vining, who is a second year member of the Colgate Arts! Festival board, describes the event as “a celebration of the role of the creative arts in our community. Events highlight existing student arts organizations in order to expose the greater campus to existing opportunities.”

Now in its third year, the festival was founded by Colgate graduates Matthew Brogan ’05, Emily Kindler ’04 and Rebecca Spiro ’05, and by Associate Dean of the College Noel Bisson. The festival’s first year was successful in getting the attention of students on campus through button and banner campaigns. In 2005, the festival expanded to include the colored lights and ice sculpture displays that adorned the academic quad.

“We tried to establish a tradition,” Vining said. It worked. Those displays caught the attention of the student body, and had many students anxious to get involved.

This year, the festival will encompass Colgate as well as the Hamilton community. The enthusiasm behind this year’s event comes from its board, comprised of seniors Adam Samtur and Steph Wortel, juniors Vining and Cori Schattner, sophomore Andrew Burten and first-year Helen Lee, as well as Bisson and Interim Assistant Director of CLSI James DeVita.

The purpose of the Arts! Initiative is “to maintain an active council representing students and organizations affiliated with the arts, working towards the promotion of artistic events, identity and influence at Colgate,” Vining said. “The Arts! Initiative is about exposing people to art who might not otherwise be engaged,” Schattner said.

This exposure will begin tomorrow with free dance workshops featuring ballet, hip-hop, modern and African dance. The same workshops will be offered again on Sunday, followed by a performance of “A Healing Journey” in Memorial Chapel hosted by Urban Theater. Monday brings back one of the most remembered Arts! Festival events from last year, the ice sculptures and lights display on the quad. The Colgate Activities Board (CAB) will serve free hot chocolate to any student who comes to watch the quad transform from our traditional Colgate academic grounds to a work of art. In conjunction with the lights and ice sculptures, there will be an Art Bazaar, where students can browse the artwork of student vendors in a market-like fashion. The bazaar will be held throughout the week of the festival, each day from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Coop.

The 2006 Arts! Festival officially begins at 5 p.m. on Monday with the festival opening and art contest in Little Hall, including free food and a live jazz performance. The festival kick-off will be followed by a Student Musical Theatre Company (SMuTCo) Cabaret performance at Creative Arts House. Tuesday brings another slew of arts events, beginning with an Artist’s Brown Bag lunch at the Coop with local glassworks artist Denise Leone. In conjunction with the COVE Sidekicks program, there will be a series of Children’s Workshops beginning on Tuesday. The first event is calligraphy-themed and will be led by the Korean Student Association, China Club and Japan Club. Concluding the arts events for the day is the first of the week’s Edge Dinner Series, which will include a live performance by Colgate’s Wind Ensemble.

Wednesday features the second event in the Children’s Workshops and Edge Dinner Series. The Edge event is among the most anticipated of the festival, as it includes a cappella performances by the Colgate 13, Swinging Gates, Resolutions and Dischords. The concert will be followed by another one of Colgate’s signature arts programs, “One Night Stands,” at Creative Arts House.

After looking at the ice sculptures all week, Thursday brings students an opportunity to work with a professional ice sculptor to create unique pieces of art themselves. There will also be a Children’s Workshop with comedy improvisational troupe Charred Goosebeak and another installment of the Edge Dinner Series, this time with the Jazz Club. The film Millennium Actress will be shown by the Anime Society in Persson Auditorium at 8 p.m., along with “an evening of improvisational comedy” at Creative Arts House by Charred Goosebeak.

The on-campus events of Arts! Festival 2006 will come to a close on Friday with five new events, as well as a continuation of the Children’s Workshop and Edge Dinner Series. New this year is the Living Statues “exhibit,” which features students transforming themselves into works of art. This unique event will be held at Frank Dining Hall from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., encouraging students to eat lunch while witnessing students become artwork.

Following the Living Statues exhibit will be a lecture about art in conjunction with religion by Greg Wolfe of Images magazine, as well as “Dance, Dance Dance,” a performance in Memorial Chapel by a variety of Colgate’s dance groups, and a free showing of the film Rent as part of CAB’s Take Two film series in Love Auditorium. The week concludes with Creative Arts House’s “Anything But Clothes Party,” for which students are encouraged to come wearing exactly what the title implies.

The Arts! Initiative is also sponsoring a trip to Syracuse. The trip is a chance to get out of town and enjoy ‘Intimate Apparel,’ a professional production at Syracuse Stage and visit the Red House Gallery.

It’s clear from the description of the many events that this year’s festival is going above and beyond what the program has done in the past.

“I believe that there is a need for art in life; for people to be exposed to creativity whether [or not] they take part in it themselves,” Schattner said. “I think that the festival succeeds in doing this. It brings art to the everyday, making people aware of events and putting art in places where it is accessible to the public.”

The Arts! Initiative also plans to expand its influence around campus beyond the annual Arts! Festival. First on their agenda is to revive Creative Arts House as not only a living space, but also a center for Colgate’s artistic community.

“We are committed to showing the arts on campus to every student at Colgate, from the captain of the lacrosse team to the science majors, the student government to the anthropologists and history students,” Samtur said.

The Colgate Arts! Initiative encourages all students to take part in the events of the Arts! Fest, and following the anticipated success of this event, we can all look forward to an increased presence of the artistic community here in the future.