With students, faculty, and staff returning to campus this spring after nearly two years of largely remote learning, faculty from nine departments in three colleges together with leadership from the Associated Students and the Soraya have organized a celebratory Back to Campus Arts Festival, scheduled for the week of March 14–18. Multidisciplinary arts and performance programs will be staged and installed across campus and online, featuring student works created in 2020 and 2021, as well as new work that will be produced through planned spring 2022 curriculum.
The festival is the brainchild of Dr. Ah-Jeong Kim, chair of the Department of Theatre, and Kinesiology professor Dr. Paula Thomson, an expert on the healing nature of creative expression for people who have experienced trauma. Together with a cross-campus interdisciplinary faculty team, Kim and Thomson secured a grant from the Campus Care Recovery Program to launch this first-ever arts festival on the CSUN campus.
Dance students in the Department of Kinesiology rehearse on Manzanita Lawn stage. Image courtesy of Paula Thomson.
The team—which also includes Jenna M. Delgado and Jade C. Huell (Communication Studies), Elizabeth Blakey (Journalism), Candice Greathouse and Ron Saito (Art), Matthew Jackson and Sam Sintef (Theatre), Jongeun Kim (Family and Consumer Sciences), HeeKyung Sung (Recreation and Tourism Management), Rick Mitchell (English), Tina Raymond and Hugo Vera (Music), and Elizabeth Leister and Dianah Wynter (CTVA)—took inspiration from Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, an arts and culture festival that emerged in 1947 as an “open door” alternative to the more traditional fare of Edinburgh’s juried International Festival. The Fringe, which has since become the largest arts festival in the world, presents indoor and outdoor performances at sites throughout the city over several weeks. This strategy promotes broad arts and culture access to people from all corners and particularly aims to reach people who may not ordinarily seek out gallery shows, theatre productions, concerts, and experiences off the beaten path.
At CSUN you can expect to see live performances of dance, theatre, and music; art installations and exhibitions; and emerging digital media presentations at sites including the Soraya Courtyard, the Armer Theatre, the Art and Design Center and Galleries, and wall projections on Manzanita, Sierra, and Nordhoff halls. Keep an eye out for participatory pop-up workshops as well. Online exhibitions will showcase student work created throughout the pandemic, and alumni creators will be invited to publicly show work previously unseen due to campus shutdowns. Festival highlights will be more broadly disseminated via Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms.
Celebrating a return to campus for both performers and the wider campus community, the festival promotes emotional healing through immersive exposure to arts programming while also showing appreciation for creators who may have felt invisible throughout the pandemic as “nonessential” workers. In addition, the team hopes to model the possibility of a recurring festival that could foster greater community and reputation for CSUN as an arts and culture capitol.