Metro State’s lack of advertising for the various arts-focused organizations is puzzling.
Metropolitan State University is home to a diverse student body. People of varying age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status all congregate together to enrich their lives with knowledge. This goes beyond what students learn in the classroom.
Metro State, like almost every other university, has various student organizations that allow people to connect with one another through shared interests. These organizations have roots in culture, technology, environmentalism and a myriad of other topics. Looking at the flyers posted on a bulletin board located in the lower levels of New Main on the Saint Paul campus, all of these roots are represented through their organizations. So, where are the Arts?
The thing is, Metro State has its fair share of Arts organizations. Secrets, a one-act play written by a Metro State student, was premiered by Theater Underground in February 2020, at the Park Square Theater in Saint Paul. The Metro State Art Club held their first meeting of the year in January 2020, open to new and returning members. The Metro State Writing Group meets on the first Sunday of every month. Haute Dish, a student-run Arts and literary magazine, is looking for submissions for their Fall 2020 publication through April 15.
All of these fantastic opportunities and events, yet none of them are advertised on any bulletins in New Main or posted on the windows of Saint John’s hall. I spent a quick thirty minutes navigating Metro State’s Engage portal to pull the majority of this. The only way any of this information can be uncovered is if a student is actively looking for it.
Exposure is vital for Arts-focused organizations like these to survive. Students cannot participate in art club meetings if they are completely unaware of their existence. A one-act production won’t sell out if it’s not advertised. The pages of a literary magazine will be empty if people have no idea where or how to submit their work.
Students whose majors revolve around the Arts have no issue finding such organizations but a student whose degree lies outside that bubble should not be left in the dark. Just because someone isn’t planning on making a career out of their stirring monologues, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t write and share them.
Another reason exposure is so important for organizations is the demographic. A large portion of the student population at Metro State, myself included, work either part-time or full-time jobs.
We have lives that exist outside of the classroom. If information regarding an organization is not presented to us, we may not go looking for it on our own time.
This does not mean that students want flyers shoved in their faces at any given opportunity; however, it does mean that students who live busier lives will not go on an active search for organizations to participate in.
It’s a shame because it’s so important for people to supplement their lives with more than just work and school. Without doing so, we go crazy. Art, whether it’s theater, sculpture or literature, can provide a great relief to the stresses of daily life.
It’s surprising to me that a university located in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area has Arts-focused organizations with such a small presence. A quick Google search of art galleries in the Twin Cities area pulls over a dozen results of various museums and showings. Throw a rock in the center of Minneapolis and it will hit a theater. Art is an important part of Twin Cities culture; it always has been.
Why don’t the arts organizations at Metro State have that same presence? Short answer: I don’t know. Is there some unspoken agreement to keep the Arts at Metro State hush-hush?
It’s not that the students who run these organizations aren’t motivated. Artists tend to throw themselves into everything they do, student artists are no exception. It isn’t that people aren’t willing to participate. Even students with a busy schedule want to be a part of something, or at least make some friends with common interests.
The lack of exposure to the events and organizations surrounding the Arts is puzzling, but I can’t usher in any change from outside those operations. For now, I’ll just have to scour the Engage portal for the next art club meetings and upcoming Theater Underground performances. You’ll have to do the same.