You go to a show and you wait for the lights to dim. You see the dancers, the musicians. You see the flash of stage lights, the words the actors are reciting. You hear voices blending and harmonizing.
The show is over and you clap and you go home and agree with your friends that the show you saw was wonderful. But the show you saw didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. It can take months upon months for everything to be what you saw for that hour and a half. It takes so many hands on deck — countless student leaders — to build for you a performance that sweeps your heart away.
On Sep. 11, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Performing Arts Council (PAC) at Penn State University held a benefit called “Celebrating Student Leaders in the Arts”at the Palmer Art Museum for all those in arts organizations who rarely have the chance to be recognized for their hard work and commitment. L
Lauren Levine, the president of the Whiplash Dance Team, was very excited for the night to begin.“Collaboration among arts groups on campus is always needed and tonight we get to mingle and meet people from other organizations we wouldn’t have otherwise,” Levine said. “If one organization has an issue, it’s important for leaders to talk to each other so the issue won’t travel — we need to communicate.”
Hors d'oeuvres were served in the Palmer Lobby where blazers and jumpsuits shook hands and met each other — some for the very first time. Marissa Works, the president of PAC, wanted to foster exactly that.“The goal was to unite student art leaders, to recognize their achievements and provide a space for them to meet one another,” Works said. “Hopefully [this will serve] as a gateway to future collaboration.”
Works and Connor Pardoe, the PAC Vice President of Community Relations, led the attendees into the Palmer auditorium where speakers including Erin Coe, the director of the Palmer Art Museum and George Trudeau, the director of the Center of Performing Arts, took the stage to share their love for the arts and their support for each and every organization here on campus. “Your work enhances the life of Penn State,” Coe spoke to the student leaders. “The arts are not limited to a particular demographic [and so] the work of student groups like PAC are essential, uniting us around a common purpose.”
Trudeau couldn’t agree more and was hoping to further the CPA’s mission. “Over one third of our [shows’] audiences are Penn State students,” he said. “[Our goal now is to have] CPA be one of the top three reasons students come to Penn State.” The ambition is in set into full gear with PAC promoting its three steps of success, steps that were shared at the Palmer that night.
“As student leaders we must promote, unite and collaborate,” Pardoe said. “It is in that way that our goals of being more diverse and more known will come into fruition.” The presentation ended with every student leader in the room reflecting on what he or she can do to work with each other and work within their organization so that the arts could have more of a presence on campus, whether it be through downloading the PACalendar App — an app where all art-related events can be found, promoting cohesion — or coming out to different events and raising awareness about the various arts groups that exist on campus.
Hope Falk, the Student Engagement Manager, feels the benefit was such an important event for PAC. “Working with PAC is the best part of my job; the students have such amazing passion and energy for the arts that it truly invigorates and fuels the rest of my work,” she said. “I think Celebrating Student Leaders in the Arts” helped all of the arts organizations present feel like they were starting the semester off on a good note and hopefully feel challenged to take risks and try something new [this year].”
At the end of the day, the arts are more than just about shows or performances. It’s about family — being a voice for the community — and one that leaves an indelible mark on all those involved and all those who consider themselves a lover of innovation, creation and heart.