The voices of Stephens College School of Performing Arts students, faculty and staff joined with other supporters of the arts at the Citizens for the Arts Day hosted by the Missouri Citizens for the Arts (MCA) at the Missouri State Capitol on Feb. 8.
“Our students must learn to articulate the importance and value of the arts in our lives both practically and philosophically,” said Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts. “It is my hope that we garner strength and courage from this experience to continue to be strong and clear advocates for the arts.”
The annual event featured advocacy training, legislative visits with state officials, performances and an arts awards ceremony.
“The day really reinforced for me the importance of speaking up about the need for funding for the arts,” said Sicily Mathenia, a second-year musical theatre student. “It was not easy and not every representative was happy to listen to us. As an art student, my life revolves around arts education and has since I was a small child. It was a wake-up call for me to realize that not everyone values arts education in the way that I do.”
Mathenia, as well as the other members of The Starbursts, the dean’s student arts advisory council, represented the school. The Starbursts also include Emma Frankie Costello, a third-year theatre student; Dana Leigh Degnan, a second-year vocal arts student; Brandon Mayville, a second-year professional conservatory student; and Delainey Phillips, a second-year musical theatre student.
Costello, who attended last year’s advocacy day as well, has found both experiences rewarding.
“It is wonderful to see a bunch of Missouri citizens come together and support the arts,” she said. “This year more than ever it is important to have all kinds of people speaking up for the arts and other things they believe in. The government is taking a serious shift after this election, and people must make their individual voices heard to make any difference.”
Others who attended from Stephens were Chelsea Andes, administrative assistant for the School of Performing Arts; Ruth Ann Burke, school business manager and executive director of the Okoboji Summer Theatre, Stephens’ summer stock theatre in Iowa; and Jill Womack, executive artistic director of the TRYPS Institute at Stephens College. Several TRYPS students and a parent also attended.
“I feel as though we made an impact on Arts Advocacy Day, but there is so much more work to be done,” Mathenia said.
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