Looking Forward: MUSIC Matters

Happy Friday, arts, ink!

I hope you’ve been getting through the week alright – we’re practically on break already! Today I wanted to talk to you guys a little bit about MUSIC Matters, a student organization on campus that I am fortunate enough to be co-president for this year. 

MUSIC Matters’ mission is to utilize the unifying power of music to drive social impact in the community. This is usually achieved through a variety of events each year, including local talent showcases, battle of the band competitions, and our capstone April event, SpringFest, which features live music, food trucks, student organizations, corporate activations, and more. In addition to these events, MUSIC Matters spearheads three of their own social ventures: the CoMMunity Partnership grant program, the Michigan Overnight Experience for Detroit-area highschoolers and the Big Thinkers Scholarship.

In response to the context of the past few months, MUSIC Matters has adjusted much of its programming. Over the summer, we made donations to the Henry Ford Hospital and to a campaign through another student organization, Heal Move Shift, to help first responders during the COVID Pandemic. In support of the protests against police- and government-sanctioned violence against BIPOC, they arranged a benefit concert and donated the proceeds to the Detroit Justice Center. They have also pivoted our local talent events to be virtual, utilizing Instagram Live to stream these performances. As for SpringFest, the MUSIC Matters team is working extremely hard to make it the best it can be while prioritizing the health and safety of everyone involved. Stay tuned for updates by following our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. 

If you want to get involved in MUSIC Matters, you can still join! Go to our website, then under the “About Us” title go to the “Get Involved” tab. Here, you can find the application for 2020-2021, as well as check out more information on each of the committees and initiatives. 

That’s all for this week! Hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving week (even though it may look a little bit different this year) and find some time to reset. 

 

Stay well + stay safe!

Lucy

Looking Forward: Creatives of Color

Happy Friday, arts, ink!

This week for Looking Forward we are learning about a student organization on campus: Creatives of Color! Tiffany Harris, president of the organization, shared with me a little more about what they’ve been up to, how she views the arts on campus right now, and how students can get involved. 

Creatives of Color is a relatively new group on campus, starting in 2018 with the hopes of creating a space where people of color could come together to perform and meet other creatives on campus, regardless of their experience level. Collaboration is at the center of many of their programs, for instance, they have a yearly showcase where artists of different mediums – dancers, filmmakers, musicians, etc – are paired together and create something to perform. Artists who participate have complete creative control – something Tiffany emphasized as one of her favorite parts of Creatives of Color. 

“It’s usually people that I have never met before across campus but it’s like a cool experience because you’re all, you know, black creatives creating something together and just really having the freedom to do whatever you want. You’re not being told by me as the president or by someone else in our E board what to do, you just have the freedom to kind of create whatever you want to. So I think that is what makes creatives of color so interesting.”

Of course, this semester they haven’t been able to perform for large crowds as they usually do, but that hasn’t stopped them from finding creative ways to spread the arts. Earlier this term, they streamed their “Creative Expo” from the basement of one of their board members. They limited those around to only the artists and essential filming crew, all of whom wore masks and maintained their distance, but they were able to stream the event on Twitch. They’re also currently working on their annual collaboration with EnspiRED, another student organization that focuses on fashion and modeling. 

Tiffany also stressed the importance of the types of conversations Creatives of Color hopes to help grow on campus:

“I think for the future just bridging those gaps between orgs [of different racial makeups] and like, obviously Creatives of Color is going to be people of color, you know, that’s in the name. But I think that I really want to make everyone feel comfortable, even white people in our spaces. I want them to want to come to our events and feel like they can participate because they can. I think a lot of people get afraid you know, ‘this is the black space, I don’t want to come into that space,’ but I really want to open that up to more people, so that, you know, we can have more conversations with other orgs, we can partner with more people instead of just blackboards, and we can have conversations about race and not, you know, not be weird and we can have conversations about systemic racism and difficulties in the arts for black people specifically that a lot of people don’t really focus on. So like for example, black women in our industry being over-sexualized and black men maybe if they deviate from the typical version of, you know, rap and hip hop, then they’re seeing as not authentic. So that sort of thing is just like, what Creatives of Color does is we have a really good dialogue, and I hope that we partner up with more organizations like Maximize and other organizations that aren’t necessarily geared towards people of color so that they can understand our experiences. “

Having these types of open conversations, although they can be daunting or scary for some, is so necessary if we are going to move forward to a better world where we can understand and support each other’s experiences. Creatives of Color is doing amazing work here, and I cannot wait to see what types of creative programming they come up with for the Winter semester. 

If you’re interested in joining Creatives of Color or participating in one of their events, be sure to follow them on Instagram @coc_umich. They often have a Google Form in their bio where you can sign up as a performer for future events or workshops, and they post about upcoming programs as well. If you have further questions or ideas for future events, you can also email Tiffany at tnha@umich.edu. They have virtual events every few weeks or so, so definitely keep an eye out for future programming!

That’s all for me this week! I hope you have a fun weekend – stay safe!

 

Lucy

Looking Forward: Shapiro Design Lab

Hello, arts, ink readers!

I know it’s been a stressful week for many of us, between election results and many people moving back home during the stay-at-home order. I hope that you are all able to find a way to relax this weekend and perform some rituals of self-care. Do a face mask, drink some tea, go on a run, or make a nice dinner for yourself. You deserve it. Beyond that, I hope that this article can provide a space for you to think about something else for a few minutes, easing your stress even just a little bit. So, without further ado, let’s get into this week’s conversation. 

Courtesy of the Design Lab website

I had the pleasure of speaking with Erica Ervin, Technology & Media Production Specialist at the Shapiro Design Lab. What is the Design Lab, you might ask? Erica describes it as “an engaged learning community focused on interdisciplinary collaboration and peer to peer learning and teaching that offers a variety of spaces and tools for everyone on campus.” It’s located on the first floor of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library (or the UGLi, as you may know it better) and houses a variety of tools like 3D printers, a letterpress, and equipment for recording and graphic or video editing. There is even a repurposed vending machine that distributes current student works, like poetry, small 3D prints, stickers, and more!

Courtesy of the Design Lab website

 

As someone who has used the Design Lab myself, I want to stress that the value of this resource is not just in the physical tools they provide, but in the incredibly knowledgeable and energetic staff as well. If you have a creative idea but you’re not sure where to start to make it a reality, chances are the Design Lab staff can help you. They can provide consultations for students, staff, faculty, and the community on projects ranging from community citizen science projects to converting physical media to be digitally accessible to storytelling, including podcasts. 

Courtesy of the Design Lab website

Given the changing nature of creativity and collaboration on campus, the staff at the Design Lab have been trying to gauge the needs of campus right now and how they can best provide assistance. Although their main workshop and PIE spaces (standing for prototype, invent, explore) are closed right now, they offer virtual consultations for many types of projects and can help direct you to where physical tools may be accessible right now. Additionally, their media production rooms are currently available to reserve for individual use, with the recording microphones being quarantined between users. The staff can also help you make the most of your own recording equipment, including best practices for conducting and recording interviews via video call. 

Erica also left me with a beautiful reminder when I asked her how her own experience with the arts on campus has changed this semester, saying,

“It’s a little bit trickier for me to consume the art that’s being created on campus. But I don’t think that means that art has stopped. I think that the current situation has brought even more creativity to the way that people are not only making art or making things in general, but also in the way that they’re putting it out to the world, putting it out for others to see. They’re finding these new solutions to get things out and that’s really exciting.”

And I think that is so true. Although we may not be able to view and share art together like we are used to, it’s important to remember that it has not disappeared. It is still here, pulsing through campus as powerfully – or even, maybe, more so – than ever before. 

If you want to get involved with the Shapiro Design Lab or use their resources, be sure to check out their website here or email them at shapirodesignlab@umich.edu. And if you’re interested in using their media production rooms, here is the Canvas training you’ll need to go through before you can reserve a time.

That’s all for now! Come back next week to hear about Creatives of Color and how they are adjusting to this semester on campus.

Stay safe,

Lucy

*Please note, quotes have been edited minimally for clarity and reading purposes, with the intention to maintain all of the meaning and voice of the author*

Looking Forward: Department of Musical Theatre

Happy Friday, arts, ink readers!

Courtesy of SMTD Website

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Vince Cardinal, Professor and Chair of the Department of Musical Theatre here at the University of Michigan. He offered insights as to what the department does in a typical year, how they’ve been adjusting to the restrictions of this semester, and how students can still view and participate in theatre on campus!

If you didn’t already know, the Musical Theatre program here at Michigan is one of the best in the country. Professor Cardinal told me they accept less than 2% of applicants — roughly 20% less than Michigan’s already-competitive acceptance rate. This is, in part, because of the department’s incredible reputation; they are one of the most represented schools on Broadway and are increasingly being featured in TV and film productions as well. A typical MT major’s schedule is around two-thirds filled with musical theatre courses, with the rest left for general requirements, minors, or even dual-degrees. Through their involvement in University Production shows, as well as participating in a variety of student productions, MT students gain experience performing a wide variety of genres and become equipped for whatever opportunities come their way after graduation.  Check out this video featuring some Maize and Blue alumni:

 

 

Of course, like most programs, the Department of Musical Theatre has had to make some adjustments in their teaching and performing this semester. Almost all of their current curriculum has been moved virtual, except for dance classes, which have been reduced in density while utilizing masks and social distancing. Although having to teach and learn the performing arts online is obviously not ideal, Professor Cardinal told me that there have been some silver linings in all of it. For example, they’ve been able to bring in top-tier talent to help their students – including Andy Blankenbueler (the choreographer for Hamilton) and representatives from the Fosse Legacy. The increased access to such impressive professionals via video calls is something the department hopes to continue utilizing in the future. 

If you’re like me and the musical theatre productions on campus are something you look forward to, you may be disappointed that you can’t see them in action at the Mendelssohn, Power Center, or Arthur Miller Theatre. The good news, however, is that there are exciting opportunities to come! The department has been working to film a series of performances by their students called MT Ghostlight 2020, asking them to respond as artists to what’s happening to them at this point in history. These will be streamed on the first three Fridays in December – the 4th, 11th, and 18th – so mark your calendars! If you’re missing theatre in the meantime, you can check out the Senior Entrance of MT21

If you’re interested in participating in theatre on campus, Professor Cardinal recommends auditioning for one of the many student groups on campus such as MUSKET, Rude Mechanicals, Basement Arts, and so many more. He also noted that the Musical Theatre Department sometimes needs crew help for their shows. This semester, specifically, they are in need of videographers, sound editors, and other digital media creators to help them produce content in this new environment. Be sure to follow their Instagram @umichmusicaltheatre to stay up-to-date with what the current MT students and alumni are up to!

That’s all for this week. Special thanks to Vince Cardinal for taking the time to speak with me. Check back next week for a feature on the Shapiro Design Lab!

 

Stay safe!

Lucy

Looking Forward: Meet the Writer

Hello arts, ink readers!

Welcome to my new column here on arts, ink.: Looking Forward. My name is Lucy. I’m excited to get started on my journey as a writer in this space, but first, let me introduce myself. 

I’m a senior in LSA majoring in Communication & Media Studies with a double minor in Performing Arts Management and Writing. That’s a really long-winded way of saying that this blog is right up my alley; I’m really passionate about connecting students with the arts on campus. The talent and resources we have access to while we’re at Michigan are incredible, and I encourage everyone to take full advantage of them during your time here.

I’m currently the co-president of MUSIC Matters, a non-profit student organization that aims to use the unifying power of music to drive social impact in the community. Through our capstone event SpringFest, as well as our programming throughout the year, I’ve been able to see the breadth of work that students on campus are doing in the arts and I hope to help showcase that in this column. I’ve also worked as a Program Assistant for Arts Ambassadors through Arts at Michigan, where I got to learn 

more about the campus resources that are available to students wanting to engage in the arts. 

My professional interests lie in the intersection of arts and community, with special emphasis on diversity and accessibility. I’ve seen how the arts can bring people together, it’s a powerful force. By allowing us to see others’ forms of expression, art encourages us to engage in empathy, which the world could use more of right now. I’m excited to continue advocating for the arts and the connections it can forge throughout my career, wherever it may take me.  

Enough about me, I’m sure you’re curious about what this column is. The goal of Looking Forward is to engage in conversations with arts groups and resources on campus. Every Friday I’ll be spotlighting one, exploring the strategies that they’re implementing to continue their programs and engage with the community during this complex public health, social, and political time. I also want to provide a space where students can access information about how to engage with these arts platforms, whether by participating or viewing since it can feel very decentralized at the moment. Hopefully, you’ll find this column to be a place where you can discover arts resources, reconnect with old favorites, or just learn more about the arts scene on U-M’s campus right now. 

I’m excited to get started. If you have any questions or requests for groups or resources to spotlight, please feel free to leave a comment!

See you next week!

Lucy