An empty theatre creates empty minds

London Lack, Columnist

All of my dance classes were canceled this week because of the Cohen New Works festival. The Cohen New Works festival is a huge deal for Theatre and Dance because it’s the largest student-created and student-run performing arts festival in the country. 

I’ve been excited about it all year, but anytime I mentioned it to my friends, they had no idea what I was talking about. It had been the subject of constant buzz throughout the entire department, but outside of our bubble, no one had heard about it.

UT Theatre and Dance should be allowed to market its performances to the rest of the student body. This would encourage students all over campus to better explore and experience opportunities in the fine arts.

 Christin Davis, an assistant professor of practice in acting at UT, offered insight into how current UT performing arts shows are marketed.

“My understanding,” Davis said, “is that we are able to reach out to people directly who have requested that we reach out to them.” 

This outreach includes students and individuals who have previously attended theater and dance shows.

However, the Theatre and Dance department is not allowed to reach out unprompted to anyone outside of it. In fact, many of those that attend the performances go either because they are in Theatre and Dance or they know someone performing.

 “I feel like people outside of the Theatre and Dance department don’t know about it as much unless they have some sort of personal connection to it,” said Mia Blitz, a dance sophomore.  

Bella Rankin, a biochemistry sophomore, attended the New Works festival. Rankin explained that she wouldn’t have known about the festival if it weren’t for her dance major roommate.

“I think if I wanted to go to one, I would be able to easily access the times and what’s going on online,” Rankin said. “But I think… the general awareness of (the shows) isn’t there.”

While this regulation is intended to reduce spam emails in students’ inboxes, students still receive a large amount of communication about other university events. There are email chains dedicated to specific categories of upcoming events, like sports or the University Lecture Series, that are intended to provide unique opportunities to students. 

Since this is effective for exposing students to other events on campus, one of these methods of communication should include a category for UT’s performing arts scene. 

Creating more exposure on UT’s various social media platforms would also be a great option. 

“I know there aren’t many posts about the arts here in terms of the shows,” Blitz said. “I guess (the university should post) more things on social media like Instagram for Theatre and Dance. Something like that can really be spread to other majors.”

Having this exposure would also be beneficial for fostering student exploration and exposure to the arts. UT places an emphasis on creating well-rounded students, and it already requires every student to complete a Visual and Performing Arts course. Highlighting Theatre and Dance performances would further expand the intellectual and artistic opportunities to the entire student body.

Lack is a dance and Plan II freshman from San Angelo, Texas.