No Bravo! at BGSU this spring

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

When Bowling Green State University announced its premier arts events for the spring semester there was one particularly notable event, and one notable absence.

Oscar-winning actress and BGSU alumna Eva Marie Saint will return to campus on March 29, a year after her last visit.

Eva Marie Saint (left) speaks during a question and answer session moderated by Lesa Lockford at the 2018 Bravo! BGSU. The Oscar-winning actress will return to campus March 29 for the re-dedication of the Gish Theatre.

During that 2018 appearance, she took part in Bravo! BGSU, an arts gala that raised funds for scholarships in the arts.

Bravo! Is no more.

While the event was successful in raising annually  just under $60,000 for scholarships that benefit dozens of students, the cost of staging the event was disproportionate to what it raised.

“Each year it got better,” said Dean William Mathis, of the College of Musical Arts. “We got better at it. It really hit its stride. … Artistically it really started to flow.”

The event had been initiated by President Mary Ellen Mazey, and remained a presidential event. Mazey expressed the hope that it would become the premier arts event in the region.

But the organization fell more and more to the arts units on campus. “The event started take on some tradition and people started to recognize it. We were very proud of the content and the quality,” Mathis said. “It was really started on a shoe string … and as it gained more momentum and got more people involved, we really needed to sit back and analyze what we were doing.”

That analysis by the arts coordination committee co-chaired by Mathis and Dean Ray Craig of the College of Arts and Sciences started last summer, now with a new president, Rodney Rogers, at the helm of the university. 

“Because of the time and resources that it took, we weren’t sure we were getting return on the investment,” Mathis said.

Later, Mathis added that “Bravo! wasn’t expanding our audience.” Some who attended were regulars at university arts events, but Bravo! didn’t encourage those who weren’t to come for other performances or exhibits.

The decision was made to focus more on the premier arts events that were already built into the schedule.

Here’s what’s scheduled for spring semester.

° Apollo’s Fire will present “A Night at Bach’s Coffeehouse” on Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall as part of the Cleveland-based ensemble’s Hansen Musical Arts Series residency. 

° A reception and special appearance by Eva Marie Saint will be held March 29 at 7 p.m. in the new Gish Film Theater, 206 Bowen-Thompson Student Union. The event will mark the re-dedication of the theater following its relocation from Hanna Hall. A reception will be held at 6 p.m. The event is free but  tickets are required. Visit our ticketing site .
° The opening reception for the BFA Senior Thesis Exhibition will be the next day, March 30 at 6:30 p.m. with award presentation at 7 p.m. in Dorothy Uber Bryan and Willard Wankelman galleries. Before the reception a panel of artists in various media will present “Where Next? The Future of Art” at 4 p.m. Video animation work will be  screened in 204 Fine Arts Center at 6 p.m. As part of the show’s two-week run, a collaboration between the School of Art and the Creative Writing Program will be presented April 12, 6-8 p.m. in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery. Creative Writing BFA seniors will read two of their pieces, including an ekphrastic piece inspired by an art work in the exhibit.

° The Department of Theatre and Film’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be staged May 2-5 in the Donnell Theatre in the Wolfe Center for the Arts. Performances are scheduled for May 2-5. Tickets are available at bgsu.edu/arts.

° The BG Philharmonia and choirs will perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony May 5 at 3 p.m. Kobacker Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. The concert will culminate the 100th anniversary of the orchestra. Tickets are available at bgsu.edu/arts.

Baylee Sheets does makeup during Bravo! BGSU in 2016

While some of the events share a weekend, that was coincidental. “Scheduling is perhaps our biggest challenge,” Mathis said. Now having a 15-week, rather than a 16-week, semester adds to the crunch.

It was hard to find a time to stage Bravo! so it didn’t conflict with other major arts events.

In planning performances, administrators have to meet the demands of the curriculum. But that sometimes conflicts with their desire to reach out and engage the community as an arts presenter, Mathis said. Performances must fit within the needs of the curriculum.

“The other part of that for me is we’re going to need to go out and rely on more on grassroots fundraising for the scholarships,” Mathis said. That includes the involvement of the arts support organizations Pro Music and the Medici Circle.

PNC the presenting sponsor for Bravo! Will remain the primary sponsor for the premier series this year. Donors who were invited to the gala will be invited to the Gish event with Eva Marie Saint.

The guiding principles of Bravo! will be represented in these premier events, Mathis said.

Those principles, he said are fostering collaboration among the arts, showcasing student talent, and engaging the community.

“We’re being more intentional about having each of the elements within those events,” he said. “Bravo! is now infused in everything we do.”

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