Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Performing arts-focused Student Advisory Council welcomes campus voice, involvement

By Cale Blakely

The Center for the Performing Arts process for booking artists can be an arduous task for its directors. There are many factors to consider before signing the contract — such as costs, schedule availability and how the event aligns with the center’s vision.

And with such a diverse student population at Penn State, it’s important to make sure their voice is heard and represented.

That’s why the Student Advisory Council exists — to put the students’ voice in the forefront.

The council consists of students from University Park with an interest in seeing the performing arts grow and flourish. The student members work together as a focus group to curate events that would appeal to the student body at large, and they brainstorm for ideas to boost engagement at the center.

Discussions are led by student officers known as arts engagement assistants, which makes the process student-run and -operated. This format facilitates dialogue between peers and an open environment where anyone is free to speak their mind.

“We want to hear what students want to say and put on what students want to see,” said Emma Neely, one of the arts engagement assistants.

In addition to providing input on general programming, the council gets to build one event per season entirely from scratch, where they learn the process of show selection, creation and production.

For the second year, the council presented a Campus Comedy Night at Eisenhower Auditorium, with a March 22 headlining set by “Saturday Night Live” comedian Marcello Hernandez.

This production has been a massive undertaking for the group, exposing them to many facets of the performing arts they otherwise wouldn’t have seen.

“It’s been an interesting experience getting to see the show put together,” said arts engagement assistant Khalil Frazier. “You don’t realize how much thought goes into contracts, agents and pricing. It’s been cool to be behind the scenes.”

The Student Advisory Council is only in its second year of operation, but it has a dedicated group of 15 students involved. It’s looking to boost its membership and expanding the diversity of viewpoints in its meetings.

 “We are aiming to promote a more inclusive student environment and represent the diverse crowd we have at Penn State,” arts engagement assistant Noa Diggs said. “The more unique perspectives we have the better.”

Visit Student Advisory Council online for more information and to fill out the membership form.

Cale Blakely is a communications intern for the Center for the Performing Arts.