Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, an annual SRU two-week long event, held its opening ceremony Thursday during common hour in Boozel Dining Hall. The celebration was made complete with live music put on by the Music Therapy Club, and an art demo and sale by Art Society.
“The Kaleidoscope Arts Festival means a lot to the Musical Therapy Club,” junior musical therapy major and Music Therapy Club President Emma Martin said. “We get the opportunity to perform and do music activities during many events for the festival.”
“[Kaleidoscope] also advocates for the arts in general. So often, the arts and music are an afterthought. This event brings light to the importance of arts and music,” Martin said.
Musical Therapy Club performed popular songs so that students could get into it more, Martin said. The musicians sang and played guitar, shakers and cajon.
SRU theatre professor, Deanna Brookens, is the director of Kaleidoscope. This is her third year working on the festival, and the 16th year the annual event has been happening on campus.
“[Kaleidoscope] is two-week multi-disciplinary arts festival. We feature department events, dance, music, theatre and art. We bring in guest artists and this year we will have two large community festivals as well,” Brookens said.
Kaleidoscope events will take place from April 13 to April 29 and will include many humanities-based events and community-wide events, like having an arts and music celebration on Main Street on April 29.
Brookens explained that the idea for Kaleidoscope came about when faculty realized that a lot of arts programming usually happened at the end of April and they wanted to build on that and use it as a way for the campus and community to come together.
“The mission of Kaleidoscope is to provide free or low-cost quality programming to an underserved region,” Brookens said. A lot of cultural events happen in Pittsburgh, Brookens said, but being an hour away, we might not get to experience those types of events.
One of the goals of Kaleidoscope this year is to come directly to the students, rather than the students having to come to the events.
“We did the opening celebration in Boozel so we can try to get people excited as Music Therapy Club performs and there is beautiful art in the lobby by Art Society,” Brookens said. “It’s just this really fun, festive atmosphere which I think makes everyone feel good, especially with finals coming up.”
One of the keynote speakers will be Ekiwah Adler-Belendez, who is coming from Mexico City on April 20 along with his friend and fellow performer Greg Josselyn from Boston. Adler-Belendez is a paraplegic poet who has been writing since he was 10 and got published at the age of 12. He focuses on using disability as a creative force.
On April 27, a Latin ensemble called Three Rivers Trio will be performing in the Student Center during common hour so students can enjoy the festival without going out of their way as they are hanging out or eating lunch, Brookens said.
Brookens wanted to focus on listening to what the students want so they can really enjoy the festival. Last year, Brookens had students in her Studies in Audience Development class pick a Kaleidoscope event to go to and survey the students to see what they wanted to see at Kaleidoscope. One student came back with overwhelming results that students wanted to see a hip-hop performance.
“You spoke, I listened,” Brookens said. “We will be having the Get Down Gang come, which is a hip-hop dancing group that Teena Custer, a professor in the dance department, works with in Pittsburgh.” Get Down Gang will be performing on April 27 at 7 p.m. in Swope Music Hall.
Kaleidoscope is also reaching out to students by having a social media presence. Students can receive updates on events from @sruartsfest on Instagram and Twitter.
“Hopefully we get a good student turnout for a lot of events,” Brookens said. “I am really excited for everything.”