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Students reflect on their favorite arts events of the year

With in-person events finally returning to Grounds, some events stuck out as special

<p>One of the University’s most popular events, The Virginia Film Festival, which took place Oct. 27-31, was also a favorite for a lot of students.&nbsp;</p>

One of the University’s most popular events, The Virginia Film Festival, which took place Oct. 27-31, was also a favorite for a lot of students. 

Though many arts events unfortunately had to migrate to Zoom during the height of the pandemic, many organizations were able to return to holding in-person events in Charlottesville this semester. Included here are multiple student perspectives on the most memorable arts events they attended or participated in over the past year. 

Third-year Commerce student Jana Kral recalls the first week of the semester when she attended the U.Va. Arts Grounds Day Picnic on August 29 for Welcome Week. The free picnic — which aimed to connect students with arts resources on Grounds — featured performances and opportunities to learn about the Visual & Performing Arts & Architecture departments.

“I really enjoyed the art school’s introductory picnic held earlier this year,” Kral said. “The food was great, and it was so great to know about the different majors and extracurriculars that are offered.”

One of the University’s most popular events, The Virginia Film Festival, which took place Oct. 27-31, was also a favorite for a lot of students. The annual festival brings films from across the world to the Charlottesville community and the University. Tickets to screenings were free for U.Va students and allowed many to see highly anticipated films before their wide release. Third-year College student Zachary Abbot reflected on a particular film he enjoyed at the festival.

“This fall I attended the Virginia Film Festival and saw the new movie ‘Belfast,’” Abbot said. “The festival was exhilarating and the late night screening was awesome to attend. They created an awesome space for people who love film to attend and geek out over a really enjoyable film.”

Also sharing the sentiment of enjoying the return to in-person events, third-year College student Matthew Shafer reflected fondly on Spectrum Theater’s Believer: A Cult Musical show that took place Nov. 7 at Monroe Hill. The musical took place outside and was the culmination of the hard work of a group of student actors. 

“The showing was great,” Shafer said. “It was super cold because it was late fall and outside, but there's something super magical about getting to see plays in person again. After the show we even stuck around and got some of the autographs from our favorite characters and the people who played them. I think it was being able to connect with the people who put on the show afterwards that really made me love that event.”

Third-year Engineering student Matthew Kim remembered Enoia Live, an event held at the Christian space Enoia where students shared their art over music and coffee on Nov 12. The atmosphere was relaxed, allowing for students to share their art with their friends. Tucked into a small building across from Student Health, students relaxed and listened to music performed by their peers after a visual art reception. 

“The most memorable event for me was a fall art display and music session at Eunoia Creative Community,” Kim said. “I enjoyed both getting to see my friend’s art and also experiencing some live music from artists I am aware of … getting to see people you know receive applause for their deep personal work also is gratifying.”

Another standout event for second-year Engineering student Mitchell Taylor was this semester’s Rocky Horror Picture Show featured in Newcomb Theater by Voyeuristic Intention on Nov 19. Incorporating audience participation into the classic show, student actors brought it to life for an enthusiastic in-person audience.

“One aspect I particularly enjoyed was the opportunity for audience participation,” Taylor said. “The group has several games planned to get the audience involved. I actually won one of these games and was given a minor role in the production. It was a great experience and I cannot wait for next semester's show!”

It's clear that the return to in-person events on Grounds has allowed the arts to flourish and have a meaningful impact this past year. The ability to be present and participate in events with friends will hopefully bring more students out to next year's arts events that will continue to be an important part of the student experience at the University.