It all started with two girls and a dream of collaborating different art forms on Slippery Rock’s campus. Juniors Naomi Bates and Luvenia Kalia planned the idea for a Multidisciplinary Arts Collective, better known as MAC over a year ago and finally initiated a database this semester.
“We used to work together in the student center,” Kalia said. “Our conversations went from 0 to 100 because we skipped the small talk and would bond over how much we wished there was more collaborating on our campus.”
That is where the idea for the Multidisciplinary Arts Collective came from. Bates and Kalia started working on the concept last year and over the past two semesters have told their friends about it and began growing the collective this semester.
“We started chatting about the theater, dance and arts all intertwining and discussed some projects I have worked on and how SRU’s arts community could benefit from more overlap and collaboration,” Bates said.
She said that not everyone interested in art could share a space on campus but questioned how they could all communicate and collaborate. The database was started so that people could have an easier way of contacting each other for a collaboration.
“Part of the stumbling blocks that we have faced is not knowing who to contact,” Bates said. “Maybe I want to create a theater piece that works with acoustic guitar, but I don’t know anyone who plays the acoustic guitar and I don’t even know where to start looking.”
She said it is intimidating to walk up to somebody or contact a professor to look for someone who fits the desired skill set.
“We decided having a database would be super helpful so that we have people’s information and know that they are willing to collaborate, have time, and have a list of skills that we can use to find people who have the skills in which they want to work with,” Bates said.
Kalia said that MAC is not an SGA approved student organization yet, but that they are working toward that goal for the fall. As of now, the database has mostly students who are involved in the arts as a major or minor, but the database is not limited to those students.
“Through MAC and the database, we target the arts departments, but it serves the larger artistic community at SRU,” Bates said.
She said the database got sent to the departments in the arts majors because they have their emails, but that anyone who is not an arts major or minor but is interested in collaborating can DM them on social media or email them at .
“We know some people are invested in dancing or making art but aren’t a major, so we encourage them to reach out to be included in the resources,” Bates said.
Kalia said that they sent out an email with a form that would go directly into an excel sheet with students’ names, preferred way of being contacted, special skills, skills outside of the major and specifications of what level they are at.
“Being specific helps us pair people up,” Kalia said. “We also emphasize that we give out contact information but that those people are not obligated to commit.”
Once someone is in the database, MAC can give out their contact information to anyone who needs someone with that skill and skill level. At that point, it is up to them who they contact and if the person in the database decides to collaborate. Nobody is guaranteed anything from MAC, they are just in the middle to help.
“We are basically the middleman to try to help people,” Bates said. “We know finding people is intimidating and difficult, so we are trying to make it more efficient.”
She said this is a private database and that only they, and whoever takes over MAC in the future, will be able to see the personal contact information and skills.
As of right now, because nobody is at school and in–person interaction is impossible, the Multidisciplinary Arts Collective social media is explaining to the community who they are and what they want to build. Bates said they have hosted some “Common Hour Collabs” where they pair up two different artists from different disciplines and they collaborate live on social media during common hour. People can watch, ask questions, and chat afterwards about how it went and how collaboration works.
“A lot of the ones that we have had have been improv based, but some have been rehearsed,” Bates said. “It’s been cool because we started with people who kind of knew each other and now our next three sets of collabs will be people who have never met before.”
She said that in addition to common hour collabs, they have interviewed both of their advisors to learn about them and more about collaboration and they held an online improv class. All the recorded collaborations and interviews can be found on their YouTube channel.
Bates said that in the summer they will not be doing things as regularly, but that people can still contact them for collaborations. They also plan to host some Zoom socials to discuss ideas near the end of summer.
Kalia said that all the original plans were meant to be in person but that this isolation serves their organization because they are trying to bring people together.
“This is the best time to bring people together,” Kalia said. “We love having people reach out because it’s great to see that what we are envisioning is also something that other people are interested in and it is not just in our heads.”
MAC can be found on Instagram at m.a.c.ollective and on Facebook at Multidisciplinary Arts Collective.