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A behind the scenes look into U.Va.'s upcoming Arts Week

How Student Council organized the inaugural event amidst an ongoing pandemic

<p>A diverse collection of Arts-related CIOs, departments and career resources will be featured in this interactive series of free events for students.</p>

A diverse collection of Arts-related CIOs, departments and career resources will be featured in this interactive series of free events for students.

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Student Council will be hosting the University’s first Arts Week — an entire week devoted to showcasing the various manifestations of the Arts on Grounds — from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1. A diverse collection of arts-related CIOs, departments and career resources will be featured in this interactive series of free events for students. 

Abby Rothenberg, fourth-year Batten and Education student, has been leading the charge of this massive project as director of the Student Council Arts Agency. 

“Our main goal with this week is to really highlight and celebrate the arts at U.Va. broadly, but also really showcase the diversity and depth of opportunities in the arts both at U.Va. and beyond,” Rothenberg said.

She hopes the week will help students find opportunities that connect to their personal interests as well as career goals in the arts. 

This year’s lineup includes a wide variety of organizations and departments across grounds, from an a cappella showcase to career panels to a comedy workshop. There’s even a social night complete with live music to cap it all off in the same celebratory spirit the series aims to embody. 

Naturally, putting together a series of this scale takes extensive planning. The idea was first born last spring by Christina Jiang, Student Council Arts Agency member and fourth-year McIntire and College student. Jiang’s idea struck a chord with the rest of the Arts Agency — while opportunities in disciplines such as Engineering and Commerce are frequently highlighted, professions in the arts have been historically overlooked. So, the group hopes to fill this gap and spread awareness of the opportunity that lies in the arts and the joy that it brings. 

Ever since Jiang’s idea took off, the Arts Agency has been hard at work building the lineup of festivities from the ground up. 

“We spent a large majority of our summer doing continuous outreach [and] really fleshing out ideas,” Rothenberg said. 

Step one was coordination and outreach through establishing partnerships with different arts groups at the University.

“We reached out to pretty much every arts-related CIO on grounds that we could think of,” Rothenberg said. 

Digging around to find the emails of each organization, they recruited groups interested in getting involved and listened to their respective visions for potential events.

Common themes emerged in what the CIOs wanted to showcase, spurring the idea for some of the larger collaborative events featured in the Arts Week series — theater groups are collectively featured during Monday’s Theater Panel, dance CIOs connect for both a meet and greet as well as a performance on Tuesday and a capella groups come together in a showcase for a cappella performance night on Thursday. 

Beyond clubs, the Arts Committee also reached out to the University’s various arts departments and career center hubs. They ultimately booked a walkthrough with the Architecture school and an Arts Internship Panel with the University Career Center, among other opportunities. 

Of course, planning an event of this scale in the midst of a lingering pandemic has not been without its difficulties. With the ever fluctuating state of COVID-19 itself, public health recommendations and University policies, changes have had to be made along the way. 

When the University's temporary mask mandate was extended, the plans for an a cappella performance night had to be re-evaluated.

“We don't want the singers to have to perform in masks because that affects breathing [and] it affects vocal quality,” Rothenberg said. “We were like, okay, we’ve got to kind of adjust so we can make sure those [events] are safe but still can be what we want them to be.”

Fortunately, the team found a solution — moving the performances to an outdoor venue, Grassy Bowl. 

“COVID-19 has definitely posed a challenge, but I’m proud of everyone’s ability to adapt and adjust,” Rothenberg said.

Recently, the Arts Committee has been able to move on to the next phase of preparation.

“I’ve been working with the marketing team — we have graphics, flyers, brochures [and] a little bit of everything,” Rothenberg said. “We’re finally in the stage where everything is set; we're just trying to get the word out there as much as possible.” 

With the big week finally on the horizon, the Arts Committee should be able to bask in their well-deserved accomplishment and enjoy the action-packed schedule of events they curated soon enough. As for the future, keep Arts Week in mind — Oct. 1 should not be the last time students hear about this celebration of the Arts. Student Council hopes to make Arts Week an annual occasion. 

“I want Arts Week to be a name that everybody knows,” Rothenberg said. She hopes it will become a University staple that students look forward to each fall. “That is our ultimate goal. And I think we can get there, it's just gonna take time.”

For details on specific events and the full Arts Week schedule, see Student Council's website. Note that select events require pre-registration.

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