UNCG SMTD Arts summit

Lily sala/Carolinian

Lily Sala/Carolinian

Shannon Neu
  A&E Editor

School of Music, Theater and Dance students and faculty, local arts professionals and consultants from prestigious arts organizations came together last Friday, August 21st, during the first UNCG Arts Summit to explore the future of creativity in the performing arts.

Beginning at 9 a.m., the day’s guest speakers introduced themselves and gave overviews of their backgrounds, professions and philosophies on the future of the performing arts industry. Guest speakers that presented throughout the day included Suzanne Callahan, Teresa Eyring and Greg Sandow.

Suzanne Callahan, founder of Callahan Consulting for the Arts, LLC works with artists, arts organizations and funders to create visions for their work and meet their goals. Teresa Eyring is the Executive Director of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG). Grew Sandow is a professor at the Julliard School and worked for many years as a music critic. All three individuals clearly demonstrated that they are very experienced in the industry of the performing arts and have exciting visions of the future of the arts,

After the opening session, the event then broke off into smaller workshops in Aycock Auditorium, Taylor Theatre and Brown Theatre. Sandow, Eyring and Collins rotated to each location during the session and provided further thoughts on the future of the arts, arts collaboration and audience engagement. They also took questions during this session from inquisitive audience members.

Some questions were particularly thoughtful, such as when Sandow was asked to describe what his definition of an artist is. Sandow answered simply that an artist is “somebody who creates art.” He went on to explain that art is a quality of openness to the world, and that individuals become so fixated on the product of the art, they often forget to appreciate the process that goes into creating the art. Elegantly crafted answers such as this really set the tone for the brilliant ideas that were shared throughout the rest of the day.

The School of Music, Theater and Dance dean Peter Alexander took a moment to speak to the Carolinian during the following lunch break.

“I’m glad to see so many students here, and I think we have some real livewire consultants,” Dean Alexander mentioned. “I think that much of what they’re saying has a lot of significance and bearing on our curriculum and curriculum reform.

“It started with a conversation between Dennis Askew, the head of the department of music performance, and myself and then moved into further conversations with the other department heads,” Dean Alexander said as he explained what inspired the event to be planned and implemented. “We were trying to find a way to do something that would bring our community of students and faculty together and do something that would inform where we’re headed in the future. It’s very easy to get complacent and think that you’ve found the true way, but the world is changing around us and we have to be responsive to that.”

Dean Alexander went on to describe some of the aspects that went to planning the event. “A lot of time,” Dean Alexander laughed. “It started months ago.”

He explained that it took a lot of time and effort to organize the speakers and their stay in Greensboro, structure the event itself and notify students and faculty about the event. He seemed pleased with the way the event was panning out on Friday.

“There will be next time!” Dean Alexander proudly stated.

Following the lunch break, students proceeded to break off into major-specific workshops. Music students worked with Sandow, dance students worked with Collins and theater students worked with Eyring.

After the workshops, the students all convened back in Aycock Auditorium for moving performances by School of Music, Theater and Dance students including an excerpt of “Frankie and Johnnie in the Clair de Lune,” a dance piece and a brass quintet performance.

The UNCG Arts Summit concluded with a brief Q&A session with Eyring, Collins, Sandow and Tom Philion, president of ArtsGreensboro. All of the panelists provided excellent advice to individuals aspiring to pursue careers in the performing arts. Collins suggested that students should pursue careers that feed their souls rather than their pocketbooks. Sandow encouraged aspiring artists to “be ferocious and be yourself.”

Based on the  ideas that were shared throughout the Arts Summit, it is safe to conclude that the future of the performing arts looks very bright.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Shannon Neu, Visual & Performance

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