Arts, Arts Features

The Creative Forces Behind BC’s 26th Arts Fest

Boston College’s annual Arts Festival is a three-day celebration of the arts community at Boston College and in the surrounding area. The festival offered nonstop performances, activities, and exhibitions from Thursday through Saturday, showcasing a wide variety of student talents.

The scale of the event encompassed an outdoor tent, several buildings, and indoor spaces on campus. Arts Fest is coordinated by BC’s Arts Council, an office of student employees and volunteers who work throughout the school year to organize the event. 

“We are a student-run office,” said Sindey Amar, MCAS ’24 and director of marketing for Arts Council. “So we have one salaried person, kind of overlooking everything we do, and doing big things like getting the permit from the City of Boston for the Arts Festival.” 

Kara Robbins, the programs administrator for Arts Council, oversees many administrative aspects of Arts Fest. She helps the student directors and council execute their ideas, according to Amar, but the majority of the festival’s creative vision is the responsibility of the students. 

“In terms of the content of Arts Fest, and what Arts Council does, that is all student run,” said Amar.

The BC students who make up Arts Council come from a variety of arts-related backgrounds, which makes them uniquely suited to organize an event like Arts Fest. According to Amar, this is the first year that Arts Council is entirely made of undergraduate students. 

Emily DeVito, MCAS ’24, is the director of operations for Arts Council, and has received the opportunity to work with the dancers, artists, musicians, and more who make up the council each year.

“I think one thing that I’m really excited about for this year’s Arts Festival, especially as a senior, is that so many people on staff are involved in so many different forms of art on campus,” DeVito said. “Whether it’s performance or visual art. So I’m really excited to cheer on the other staff members.”

This year, Arts Fest incorporated staff-run events, including tie-dye, henna, and other crafts for students and children. Typically, the schedule is mostly student performances and exhibitions, so making it interactive was one of Arts Council’s goals for this year.

“This year, I feel like our staff is a lot more involved in terms of actual activities during the festival,” DeVito said. “Each of us are gonna take on our own craft and students and faculty can come down into the Mods and craft with us, which is something we haven’t done in the past and something that we’ve been trying to implement through the office, through this entire year.”

In addition to the interactive activities, Arts Fest features performances from student bands, music groups, and dance teams, as well as exhibitions of student work from the BC Studio Art department and beyond.

Megan Cassidy, MCAS ’24, is the director of exhibitions for Arts Council, and has worked to cultivate relationships with both art professors and student artists for the office. She emphasized the importance of including recurring events, like the visual art exhibition or yearly performances, in Arts Fest.

“Every year, we kind of try to add in new events, but also keep the old ones that have kind of become, like, a tradition to have,” Cassidy said. “Just because they have become so popular and they are now a staple.”

Events from past years that have become popular include BC’s Best, Dancing with bOp!, different cultural and dance showcases, and the Maker Craft Sale. 

“We try to bring those things back because people really like them,” Amar said. “It’s kind of part of, like, the Arts Fest lore. But we do try to kind of fill in our programming gaps once we have everything we’ve done in the past and see, ‘Oh, we have four hours on Friday where nothing big is going on. What can we do in that time to really make it a full festival, make it a full three days?’”

One of the goals of Arts Fest, according to DeVito, is to provide a platform for arts groups on campus to share their work, especially newer groups that might lack the resources or space to showcase what they’ve been doing.

“It kind of gives these newer art clubs a platform to share their work and their talent with other students and faculty and members of the community,” DeVito said. 

Arts Council builds the schedule for Arts Fest by sending out a “call for participation,” asking any and all members of the BC arts community to share their group or individual work. 

“We just put them on our big schedule and help them pick out a room,” Amar said. “So with the call for participation, there’s a lot of flexibility for new things to come to Arts Fest. It’s just a matter of the entire student body as a team helping us to make the Arts Fest what it is.”

The festival is an opportunity for both established and new arts groups to share their work not only with BC students, but with the surrounding community.

“Another part of our programming that we don’t talk about enough is the work that our supervisor does to connect with the Brighton and Newton communities,” DeVito said. “Bringing in artists and local families to kind of just enjoy all the things that we’ve put on.”

This year, the 26th Arts Fest was made more accessible by relocating it to Lower Campus, with its main tent in the Mod Lot. Both Robbins and the student organizers pushed for the location change. Previously, Arts Fest had been held in a tent on O’Neill Plaza, with other events held in buildings across campus.

“It was decided to move to the Mod Lot because it’s so close to where the majority of the student body lives,” Cassidy said. “And kind of the center of the social hub of BC.”

The location change allowed more students to access the free event easily, especially because much of the programming occurs over the weekend when students are less likely to be walking through main campus.

The main tent’s new location added to the festive atmosphere of the event, with live music and bright pink lights shining beside the Mods on Friday and Saturday night.

“I really hope the move to the Mod Lot is the beginning of Arts Fest being an important and known event on campus,” Amar said. “Something not to miss.”

April 28, 2024

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