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The Aquilian

    Gonzaga’s new Ambassadors of the Arts Program explained

    The outside of Gonzaga’s Sheehy Theater has a poster displaying all the fall performances as part of the Ambassadors of the Arts Program. A spring poster will be up soon. Photo by Lorenzo Limarzi

    For the first time in Gonzaga’s history, a program has been put in place to try and incentivise students to come and see choral and band concerts as well as the musical performances. The program began in September of this year thanks to the combined efforts of Mrs. Jenni Dunn, the choral arts director, Mr. Andrew Wood, the band director, and Mr. Paul Buckley, who is in charge of the Gonzaga Dramatic Association.

    “We were trying to find a way to encourage more students who are not inherently in arts programs to come to concerts and shows and experiences that the arts put on,” Mrs. Dunn said.

    The Ambassadors of the Arts Program will give out passports that students will get stamped by a teacher whenever they attend a concert or show. The idea is to give a reward to people depending on the number of shows that they attend.

    “The first time that people see someone get that reward, they’re gonna say: ‘Oh, cool there’s a reward for doing this.’[…] It’s a tangible, visible reminder that it exists,” Mr. Wood said.

    Unfortunately, since the program was founded after the school year started, there was not much time to get the word out about the new program. According to Mrs. Dunn and Mr. Wood, Mr. Buckley was very good at letting people know about the program and the passports, but no other teacher at the school was aware of them or spreading the news. Mrs. Dunn believes that these passports are the way to get people to come see shows. 

    “It’s like we are tangibly inviting you to these performances,” Mrs. Dunn said.

    The main reason that this program exists is because the adults and students who are involved in the arts at Gonzaga recognize the importance of people coming to see the shows and to support the students involved in the three programs. 

    “Part of the Gonzaga experience is to show people okay, hey, we at Gonzaga, we show up. That’s the biggest thing. It comes down to that great quote from St. Ignatius: ‘Love ought to manifest itself more in deeds than words.’ And so this, I think, is just sort of giving people a little bit of a push towards living out as it correlates to our arts programs […]. If we can improve our attendance at these events, then we’re improving our Ignatian identity, creating a better culture at the school and just generally being a place where arts and sports and everything else can thrive,” Mr. Wood said.

    The Ambassadors of the Arts Program promotes a unique way to support a part of the Gonzaga community, encouraging more recognition to a dedicated part of the student body. For example, Mrs. Dunn, Mr. Wood, Ms. Griffith and all of the students involved put in the work for months to put on the best shows that they can. Additionally, all three of the choirs at Gonzaga, with kids from every grade, had a very successful concert in St. Al’s right around Christmas time this year, and Mr. Wood and the bands had a strong band performance in the fall of 2022 where they were able to play complex, yet interesting songs.

    “In the fall we did video gaming music, movie music, which was a big hit. And so trying to infuse not only things where I as the teacher, I’m like, okay, I need my students to like learn these core skills. This piece will help us do that, but also say, ‘hey, this piece is really fun and is at least more relevant to contemporary interests,’” he said.

    The GDA also has had a very good year so far. They put on three moving productions of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and they are already well on their way for a very entertaining production of The Addams Family.

    “I think over the past few years, especially since COVID, our programs have gotten so much stronger and better. And therefore, we’re creating the best work that we’ve been creating in a long time,” said Ms. Kate Griffith, one of the directors of the shows this year.

    She also said how simple it is to come and see all of the arts shows. There are an abundance of posters and all the dates of the concerts are put on the exact same poster, which at the very least is outside at the right side of the theater doors.

    “I also think it’s interesting that you know you want to go see a concert where people are singing, and that is normal, but then when it’s an in school thing, that changes. […] I think one thing that this whole community struggles with is just sitting and absorbing, and the more opportunities that we can have to practice it is listening to each other. […] Experiences where you have to sit with your own thoughts and be quiet and listen to others is actually very powerful,” Ms. Griffith said.

    The Gonzaga Arts Program is full of talented musicians, singers, dancers and actors who truly deserve more popularity and acknowledgement than they currently get. That is why the Ambassadors of the Arts program is so  helpful because it promotes acknowledging gifted people at Gonzaga who deserve it.

    “I think one of the great things about being at a place like Gonzaga is the variety of options that you have. And coming to any concert allows you to sort of, not in a cliche way, broaden your horizons. Here’s something you’ve never heard before. And most importantly, see a friend do something that you’ve never seen them do before,” Mr. Wood said. 

    For any student who is interested in joining the Ambassadors of the Arts Program, stop by and see Mr. Buckley, Mr. Wood or Mrs. Dunn to receive your passport and begin supporting the artistic side of the Gonzaga Community.

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      James MorganFeb 6, 2023 at 11:28 am

      Great to see an “Arts” piece here early in the semester! Well written too Lorenzo.
      Mr. Morgan