Traditionally held in outdoor tents that decorate the campus quads, the Boston College Arts Festival is celebrating the BC community’s artistic talents from a virtual platform this year.
“This year’s festival has been re-imagined in a virtual space, where local and global communities can gather to experience the arts at Boston College,” the Boston College Arts Council wrote in a Facebook announcement on April 15.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic sent students back to their homes, BC students and faculty have shifted their lives online. Consequently, many arts events and annual performances set to take place this spring were canceled, such as ALC Showdown and Modstock, as well as spring dance, a cappella, and other music group showcases.
Arts Festival Director Tatiana Flis said she and the Arts Festival student production and marketing teams initially weren’t planning on hosting a virtual event. But after seeing how the BC arts community was active across social media platforms at home, Flis and her team decided to shift the event online.
Arts Council Social Media Manager Annabel Hodson-Walker, CSOM ’21, who proposed the idea in a council Zoom meeting, was especially instrumental in orchestrating the virtual event according to Flis.
“Once we noticed all the activity and creativity on social media from the arts groups, we decided to ask all originally registered participants if they wanted to contribute content,” Flis said in an email to The Heights. “The amount of content and support that came in from the entire BC arts community was (is) amazing.”
Instead of calling off the 22nd iteration of the festival, the Arts Council restructured the event so that BC students can still tune in through the Arts Festival website and the Arts Council’s Instagram and Facebook pages.
“The strength of this community shines every year during the three-day festival, and this year isn’t any different,” Flis said in the email.
From Thursday through Saturday, Arts Fest will release pre-recorded videos featuring performances from campus dance and music groups. Video snippets from City of Angels, the spring musical that was set to debut this month in the Robsham Theater Arts Center, will also air during the festival. While artwork from BC students and faculty is usually displayed in tents, paintings, drawings, photography, and films will be posted online for festival-goers to view.
Typically, Arts Fest features live performances from dance and music groups, and scenes from the BC theatre department’s spring performances. On-campus literary clubs, such as Stylus and The Laughing Medusa, use the event to debut their spring magazine releases.
A unique addition to this year’s Arts Fest will be fairy tale readings from students in Luke Jorgensen’s Theatre for Youth course. The 16 students in the course, who were scheduled to perform for nine schools in the Boston area, made videos retelling their favorite fairy tales for these students instead. Other readings featuring student fiction and nonfiction pieces will also be posted online.
The festival will also include the release of the poetry and art collaboration To Hang a Pencil. The work features poems from BC alumnus B. Burke, BC ’15, LGSOE ’17, alongside video visuals designed by over 40 artists. Together, their work tackles mental health and explores experiences with internalized transphobia and homophobia, institutionalization, recovery, and other themes.
The Arts Council will also unveil its updated BC Arts Journal, an online blog that will showcase student works.
The virtual festival will include three Instagram activities for the BC community to participate in. A bingo event will invite students to play by viewing the Art Council’s Instagram stories on Instagram Thursday and Friday. The Arts Council will release an Arts Fest Bucket List on their Instagram stories on Friday. And “Pick Your Arts Fest Tent,” a spoof of the popular “choose your quarantine house” meme, will ask attendees to select an arts fest tent they would want to shelter in place at.
The 10 Student Art Award winners will also be recognized during the virtual festival and receive the Jeffrey Howe Art History Award. But the granting of the faculty award and annual Boston College Arts Council Alumni Award for Distinguished Achievement has been postponed until 2021.
“I am so proud of all our student artists and the Arts Council staff who made this amazing event happen,” theatre professor and Arts Council Chair Crystal Tiala said in an email to The Heights. “The ability for artists to be resilient in the time of need is truly remarkable.”
Featured Image by Maggie DiPatri / Heights Staff