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Art festival unites students, campuses

by The Concordian February 28, 2001
How much does art matter to you?
A group of Fine Arts students are hoping their Art Matters festival will bring together the many talents of their faculty, and give to the Concordia community all that art students have to offer. “The main purpose of the festival is to let people know the talent that’s in Fine Arts, and to show the importance of funding it,” said festival co-founder Julie Fowler, an Art History major.
The festival begins next week, and will showcase over 90 extra-curricular works and performances from more than 400 students. The two-week, students’ arts fest will take place across both campuses and beyond, and exploit almost every medium that is art.
“The whole campus will be turned into a giant gallery,” said organizer Michael Golden. “There’s been so much activism and negativism recently. Here there’s no politics, it’s just about good.”
Golden, also the president of the Musical Students Association, came into this project shortly after its creation. He said that one of the pseudo-goals of the festival has been to get students from different departments, which often feel isolated and unaware of what others are producing, to cross-collaborate on projects. “We’re very split between visual [downtown] and performance [Loyola], no one really gets to know each other. This way, we get to know what others are up to.”
Teoma Naccarato is one participant who’s enjoying the experience of preparing for the festival. A first-year contemporary dance a student, Naccarato is helping to direct dance production called “If Feet Could Speak” which will be performed next week. She describes the hour and a half long show as dance with a message, incorporating themes of street art, activism, protest, street theatre, among others.
Naccarato is co-choreographing the production with seven other students. The show involves 30 to 40 students, not only from dance, but also from visual arts disciplines, who provided backdrops and props. Music students also helped with a soundtrack.
Although she said the production is a lot of extra work on top of school work, Naccarato adds that the crew is really enjoying it. “It’s great to collaborate with all the different students. It’s something that really brings the community together, and exposes art at Concordia.”
Golden hopes the festival will heighten the Concordia community’s generally apathetic interest in what their fellow student can learn and produce. “This should get us some exposure. Show, not even to Montreal, but let alone [the university], what Concordia is capable of.”
This festival luckily coincides with the Faculty of Fine Arts’ 25th anniversary, and is the faculty’s first ever all-department arts fest. Concordia has the largest fine arts programs in Canada, but many within the faculty feel they are under-appreciated. “Here we are in the festival city, and we didn’t have one ourselves. It just made sense,” explained Fowler. “It’s something that should’ve happened a long time ago.”
As a former CSU councillor who also got Fine Arts Student Association (FASA) off the ground, Fowler feels she’s become versed in what the the faculty needs. She says the university is becoming less and less accessible to prospective students. Also, she finds the school’s administration doesn’t consider the fine arts as a priority, not being a domain that immediately leads to employment. “Do you got to a university to get a job, or to get a well-rounded education?”
Fowler is wary of the increasing cost-effective digital component that is creeping into almost every aspect of fine arts; making students more employable, while traditional arts die off.
Though the school and government have been cutting back on fine arts funding over the past few years, Fowler insists it’s important to maintain all aspects of the study.
“Without having those kind of things funded in our society, it’ll be mass culture, Hollywood. We’ll become a monoculture, TV zombies.”
Fowler is hoping Art Matters will prove the worth of fine arts to the community, and underline the importance of its continued support. There will be merchandise for sale and admissions costs to a few events, but most of the festival will be free. The festival’s organizers have managed to raise nearly $20,000 from school and external sponsors, $7,500 coming from within the faculty. Although this a far cry from the lofty initial budget request that was put forward at the festival’s proposal in September, Fowler said many of the participants are happy to get any kind of funding for their works.
Associate Dean of Fine Arts Kathline Perry has assisted Art Matters’ co-ordinators as a resource person, helping spread the word on the festival around the faculty, drumming up support and participants from each department. Perry is happy to see students take such initiative for the festival, and hopes it will become a recurring a growing event in future years.
“It brings together a bigger sense of community. Both the dean and I have noticed that bigger sense across all the departments over the past year.”

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