Hana Sherman, grants and research assistant in the Department of Theatre, had an idea to partner with visual arts students in local high schools to create a collaborative art project. She applied for a Community Engagement and Incentive Grant for 2016-17 and that idea became the Clarence Brown Theatre (CBT) Creative Arts Collaboration.
Sherman partnered with schools whose students may not have had the opportunity to attend a live theatre performance and who expressed a mutual interest in the program. Students from Austin-East Magnet High School and L&N STEM Academy created and displayed artwork for the CBT’s 2016/2017 production of The Crucible and Around the World in 80 Days.
Sherman gave students prompts around theater productions a month prior to opening night. Once complete, the artwork was displayed in the main lobby of the theater for the run of the play. Students were invited to attend a performance free of charge and offered an opportunity to engage with cast members of the production after the play. More than 50 high school students attended a performance at the CBT and participated in a post-show discussion with cast members over lunch.
The partnership not only helped beatify the theatre’s space, but exposed students to the theatre, gave them the chance to explore how art forms overlapped, and allowed patrons to engage in the themes of the play as they entered the lobby. The initiative also provided a space and platform for the next generation to express their creativity, while exploring how various art forms can intersect and inspire one another.
The Creative Arts Collaboration has continued into the 2017-18 season, with students from Austin-East creating artwork reflective of different holidays which were displayed throughout the CBT Lobby during the production of A Christmas Carol. These works of art helped to celebrate and introduce other holidays of the winter season to patrons, from Kwanza to Bodhi Day, Christmas, Hanukkah and Yule. The CBT plans on continuing these collaborations throughout upcoming seasons based on the relationships and model formed and created through this opportunity.