Georgetown is known for many things: Bill Clinton, basketball and politics to name a few, but rarely are Georgetown and the arts synonymous, despite the theater and performance studies program, which touts a top-five ranking amongst programs outside of New York City. The inaugural Georgetown University Arts Week hopes to change that by promoting creativity with exhibits, performances and open mike nights across campus from April 5 to 12.
The Georgetown University Student Association Subcommittee on the Arts spearheaded GU Arts Week, starting planning this past fall.
“We made this decision to broaden the purview of it so it’s creative expression rather than arts. So the idea is that it is creativity in general,” Creative Expression Subcommittee Co-Chair Jonathan Thrall (SFS ’17) said.
The week consists of various theater performances, a cappella at Lauinger Library, a GU Jazz ensemble performance and extended Uncommon Grounds open mike nights.
The week hopes to show that the arts are worthy of student attention, as many students tend to focus on professional endeavors that stifle student creativity.
“Students aren’t as creative by themselves when they could be because they don’t really think that is something they should do. They think it might be a waste of time, they don’t know what resources are there, maybe,” Thrall said.“Creativity and professional aspirations aren’t mutually exclusive.”
For students already involved in creative arts, some feel as if it is only useful for resume building.
“I have a friend in the Phantoms who said, ‘If I’m going to do this artistic thing, I need to have a leadership role in it so it looks better on a resume,’” said Andrew Walker (SFS ’16), subcommittee co-chair and a member of the a cappella group.
Through Arts Week, the subcommittee hopes to show incoming students that Georgetown is not just a pre-professional school.
“We’d love it that students come to Georgetown and they are not like, ‘Oh, I love Georgetown, I really want to come here. I guess I’ll have to give up playing the violin, or I guess I’ll have to give up acting or singing. Maybe I’ll be able to dabble in it once in a while, but I’m going to have to focus on the academics or going into [International Relations] or going into business,’” Thrall said.“I want to make sure that that’s not the case.”
Arts Week is intended to reach out to a large audience.
“We are trying to communicate to two types of people, [including] people who didn’t fall into this pre-professional trap and are involved in the arts on campus, and we are showcasing all of their work throughout the year by publicizing their events,” Walker said.
Arts Week may even expand the definition of the pre-professional focus to show how arts can strengthen students intellectually.
“I think that if we were able to expand the definition of what it means to be an intelligent person and include creativity in that, I think that can only lead to more students being challenged in the way they learn best and other students being challenged in new ways that let them think differently than they usually do,” outgoing GUSA Secretary of the Arts T. Chase Meacham (COL ’14) said.
Additionally, Arts Week will give more visibility to the individuals involved in the arts and hopefully attract others outside of that group to join in collaboration.
“I think visibility is the best thing that can come out of this event. I think the arts community is for better or worse a little bit self-cyclical. It’s a lot of the same people that do the same shows or sing in the same songs,” Meacham said.
Although the events are mostly composed of performing arts, Thrall acknowledged that this was simply a reflection of what is here on campus.
“Honestly, when you think about arts, it’s majorly skewed on campus towards performing arts. That’s what exists,” Thrall said.
Arts Week coordinators hope that this week’s impact lasts more than the eight days of the event by getting students to give creativity a chance. Those involved want this week to be an opportunity for people to experience art and creativity on campus and to get to know the resources to seek out events in the future.
“If you look at the things that are happening this week, it’s about people knowing that they are there,” Walker said.
The committee hopes that this year’s success will be a jumping off point for next year. “I think that’s what we did really well this year was to make a really strong foundation for this not starting over but rather moving forward,” Walker said.
The organizers believe the week is intrinsic for the development for Georgetown’s arts.
“It’s tough with an event like this because you’re not going to really see an impact I don’t think for another couple of years. But I think that’s all the more reason that we begin now,” Meacham said.