Student Groups Give Non-Major Artists Opportunities to Create


Gwen Christopherson

(Photo by Gwen Christopherson | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Hannah Keating, Arts Editor


The effects of the pandemic dramatically altered the way the arts on-campus, particularly student-led or non-departmentally sanctioned programs, could function. While the College of Fine Arts sought to maintain opportunities for students in their artistic degree-seeking programs to critically engage with art, it became increasingly more difficult for student organizations in the arts to secure meeting spaces, hold events, recruit new members and promote their work due to restrictive University guidelines.

However, as we enter a fall semester with a greater sense of safety, student groups need to be recognized and accessed as tools for what it means to be a collegiate artist or entertainer. While COVID-19 made it difficult to keep registered student organizations alive, returning to campus should reinvigorate their work and give new students places to shine.

Art Across Departments

As mentioned, there are many student organizations that are connected to or sponsored by the artistic departments on campus, like Film Club, the Art History Student Organization, the American Institute of Graphic Arts Student Group, Stage Managers at the U and more. Almost every instrument played in the School of Music is represented by its own student organization — from cello, to harp, to voice.

While a good number of these clubs require that you are working towards a major in the arts department, many have opened their doors to student artists in other degree programs. The Film Production Club hosts talkbacks with members of the industry and supports student projects across campus. Open Door Productions produces student-led theatre with no major requirement to propose or audition. Both the Business Casual and Vocal Track, two individual vocal A Cappella groups on campus, hold open auditions for their ensembles. The Ballroom Dance Company also auditions for their team, performing on and off campus competitively with members from a wide range of dance experience. Another dance organization, Healing in Motion Dance, is not centered around performance, but connecting dance and health students by holding rehabilitative ballet classes for people with neurodegenerative disorders.

Because the entrance to arts majors at the U are largely audition-only or require a portfolio of work, participating in the arts has an unexpected barrier to entry. Clubs like these remove the clique-y nature from collegiate arts, promoting opportunities for engagement across departments, interests and skill levels.

Creative Outlets

There are also non-traditional arts organizations on campus, many of which have found ways to best communicate with their wide array of members during the pandemic and are always looking for creatively-minded individuals to be involved.

Fashion in Business is a relatively new student organization, focused on discussing sustainability, design, and entrepreneurship in the industry. They have a thriving Instagram page where they communicate about talkbacks, thrifting hauls and more, creating a small, but thriving, community of fashion-focused students in-person and online.

The Stand-Up Comedy Club became a feature of on-campus spaces on the last Friday of the month before campus restrictions caused them to cancel events. Their return to campus is likely to feature in-person open mic nights across campus where students can join in as eager audience members or aspiring comedians themselves.

If fashion or stand-up are not your scene, there are tons of clubs centered around gaming and anime, possibly as a result of the thriving Entertainment Arts and Engineering program on-campus. Both the Anime Club and Gamecraft – a club focused on developing and discovering new games – communicate largely via Discord, creating an online community that thrived during COVID-19.

For less-structured art enthusiasts, I would suggest sitting and sketching in the galleries of the UMFA, scoring a ticket to a performance at Pioneer Theatre or simply wandering through campus during finals — you are bound to see a group of modern dancers, a Butoh class in movement, a series of art pieces strewn around campus or even a photoshoot taking place.

If there is some facet of the art world that you are passionate about, but don’t see an avenue to pursue in college, you can create it. Starting a Registered Student Organization through the Union can give you access to University opportunities and help you find like-minded artists to engage with.

While a lot of your time in college will be devoted to your major and academic career, it does not mean that artistic outlets should be thrown to the wayside. Even if it is something small, from Bob Ross-style painting nights or open mic karaoke in one of the residence halls, or something larger, like starting your own organization for anything from baking to gaming to writing and more, student-led arts are set to thrive in our return — and your introduction — to campus life.


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