Current Students

  • Spring and Summer learning at the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture

    The Centre for Studies in Arts in Culture (STAC) is excited to welcome students for the Spring and Summer sessions of 2022.

    THE CULTURE OF NOISE: STAC 1P99

    Offered annually as a Spring/Summer course by STAC at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), STAC 1P99 explores the role of noise in music, art and social spaces. Students explore discursive issues concerning the value of sound studies. This is an online asynchronous course taught this year by Fan Wu, a sound poet who collaborates with Toronto musicians Prince Nifty, Vibrant Matter, and other sound artists.  Fan is based in Toronto and Kingston and is the cofounder of the Toronto Experimental Translation Collective.

    In May 2021 the course was taught by Ryan Bruce, ethnomusicologist, jazz historian and saxophonist. Learn more about the previous offering of the course and listen to some of the students’ projects. In previous years the course has also been taught by Marlie Centawer, a photographer, artist, writer, musician, and archivist now based in the UK.

    SPORTS IN ARTS AND CULTURE: STAC 3V91

    From paintings of the Olympiads in Antiquity, to the photography of today’s sports events, through to the history of popular street games in Canadian art, music, festivals and opening ceremonies at the games, aesthetic gymnastics and athletic performances. Sports has a long, rich cultural tradition.

    Learn about sports, arts and culture during the historic 2022 Canada Summer Games hosted at Brock University in Niagara. An Interdisciplinary approach to the representation of sports and sport events in the arts, the course has an emphasis on Canadian production. This is an online asynchronous course taught by Curtis Tye, a celebrated Niagara educator and creator of the course. The course runs from June through August.

    The courses can be found on the university timetable. For more information, please contact: stac@brocku.ca

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  • Student-run podcast provides guidance, inspiration for future artists

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines is home to the student-run podcast, Dear Marilyn, named in honour of the late textile artist and philanthropist.

    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2022 | by 

    What started as a passion project for two Brock University students in search of career tips has become a robust podcast series providing invaluable insight to the next generation of creators.

    Produced for students by students, the popular podcast Dear Marilyn is now in its second season of connecting the student community with professional artists, with plans to continue production on an ongoing basis.

    Created in 2021 by Dramatic Arts (DART) students Danielle Letourneau and Luca D’Amico, the podcast name honours celebrated textile artist, philanthropist and arts advocate Marilyn I. Walker. In 2008, Walker made a historic donation to Brock that led to the creation of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    Letourneau, the podcast’s producer who is now in her fourth year of study with a concentration in Drama and Education and minor in History, says that she has often felt anxiety about entering theatre as a profession.

    “I started this podcast to give students like myself a resource for practical job advice,” Letourneau said. “The arts industry is not always considered the most conventional career path, but we do it because this is what we love; the arts nurture our souls.”

    Supported by Dean Carol Merriam of the Faculty of Humanities through the Dean’s Discretionary Fund in 2021, the Associate Dean of Fine and Performing Arts and MIWSFPA department Chairs, the Dear Marilyn team invites local and surrounding artists from a range of artistic disciplines to share their stories.

    Co-hosts Hayley Bando, a second-year Dramatic Arts major with a concentration in Production and Design, and Chloe Racho, a third-year Music major with a minor in French Studies, are thrilled to be part of the project.

    “We are honoured to help bring these diverse perspectives about professional journeys in the arts to the Brock community,” Bando said.

    Recent podcast guests include actor, writer and producer Thet Win, voice actor Keegan Vaillancourt and singer-songwriter Glenn Marais.

    MIWSFPA faculty have been supportive since day one, with Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, championing the podcast idea in its early stages.

    “I was happy to support Dear Marilyn initially because it’s a great idea, and a positive student-led project during the hard time of the pandemic,” she said. “I looked forward to each episode and was entertained and educated by the hosts’ sparky exchanges with guests.”

    DART Associate Professor Gyllian Raby guided the grant proposal for Dear Marilyn resulting in the expansion of the podcast to include all four departments at the downtown arts campus (Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts and Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture).

    “What’s not to like about Dear Marilyn? It relates directly to our mission to create experiential, professionalized learning for students producing, hosting, editing and broadcasting,” Raby said. “And, it’s entertaining and insightful.”

    DART Associate Professor Danielle Wilson has been working with the team on the second season. Episodes are edited by Alex Sykes, a fourth-year DART student with a concentration in Production and Design.

    Available on Spotify, the next episode goes live this week. For the latest news, follow Dear Marilyn on Instagram.

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  • An Introduction to the Small Walker Press


    Watch this brief introduction and learn more about small press publishing
    at the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture.

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  • STAC and VISA students explore curation with arts industry experts

    Brock University students from the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) and Visual Arts (VISA) at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) are having important conversations with arts professionals around the curatorial function of museums, galleries, and cultural organizations.

    Students enrolled in STAC/VISA 3P42 Methods and Principles of Curating will be participating in a field trip to the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum and upcoming classroom discussions with professionals from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and Yale University Art Gallery.

    The events are led by Instructor Sonya de Lazzer, Gallery Coordinator at the Visual Arts Gallery & Student Exhibition Space at the MIWSFPA. Sonya is an alumni of the Visual Arts Program at Brock (BA Honours). In 2013, she obtained her M.A. in Art History from University at Buffalo, The State University of New York and is currently completing her PhD in Art and Visual Culture at Western University. Sonya brings extensive experience from the museum and art gallery world, where she worked as a Programming and Curatorial Assistant at a local art gallery and museum for several years, developing her exhibition writing and installation skillsets.


    Upcoming class events (not open to the public):

    March 7 – Exploring Experiences: Conversations Around Curating
    Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum: Shawna Butts, Assistant Curator & Education Programming
    Students will be toured through the historical society and view current exhibitions and learn about the way in which these sites collect and care for their collection(s).

    March 21 – Exploring Experiences: Conversations Around Curating
    Nick Clemens, Preparator, Royal Ontario Museum
    Preparator and museum professional Nick Clemens will be joining the classroom to share his many experiences working with art/artefacts/objects at the Royal Ontario Museum. The class will explore the need for mindfulness and respect for the object as it relates to the curatorial practice, and the care that goes into curating and presenting a work to an audience.

    March 28 – Exploring Experiences: Conversations Around Curating
    Where Collections Live: Roksana Filipowska PhD, Wurtele Study Center Programs and Outreach Manager, Yale university Art Gallery
    Dr. Roksana Filipowska joins the classroom for a virtual exploration and conversation on open and visible storage. Filipowska works as Programs and Outreach Manager at the Wurtele Study Centre, Yale University Art Gallery. Students will engage in discussing the importance of collection visibility, as well as learn about the many challenges that many collections face regarding storage.

    These events are supported by an Experiential Education grant from the Co-op, Career & Experiential Education Office.

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  • Performing arts production professionals bring ‘real world’ experience to MIWSFPA students

    The MIWSFPA welcomes leaders in live performance production and company operations for two presentations about challenges and opportunities in the field, bringing ‘real world’ experience to STAC/DART 3P93 students.

    All are welcome to a maximum of 17 guests. Bring your questions!
    Please contact stac@brocku.ca if you wish to reserve a seat (walk-in’s welcome as capacity allows).

    EVENT INFORMATION:

     

    Site Selection and Development for a Performance Event
    Kathleen Ross, Director of Operations, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
    Tuesday, February 8, 2022
    9:30-10:30 a.m., MWS 156

     

     

    Kathleen will be discussing the topic of Site Selection and Development for a Performance Event, addressing such topics as: selecting a site; space requirements – production (staging layouts, technical requirements, load in/load out requirements, broadcasting, or other capabilities); audience capacity (seating capacity and layout, accessibility, parking, transit); front of house requirements (staffing, box office, food and beverage options and costs); legal and safety issues.

    Kathleen Ross is an experienced operations professional with a focus on the most valuable asset…our human capital. She has an extensive history of working in government administration and entertainment industries, and is skilled in Emergency Procedures, Human Resources Management, Disability Management, Special Events and Entertainment.

    The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) is a 95,000 square foot academic and  cultural complex, located in downtown St. Catharines, comprised of four performance venues:  Partridge Hall  (770 seats), Recital Hall (304 seats), Robertson Theatre (flexible black box space) and The Film House (199 seats). Located adjacent to the MIWSFPA, Brock University students attend courses and perform at the PAC.

     

     

    Production Priorities
    Kate Leathers, General Manager, Carousel Players.
    Tuesday, February 15, 2022
    9:30-10:30 a.m., MWS 156

     

     

     

    Kate will be discussing Production Priorities, including such topics such as: The roles and responsibilities associated with various productions; co-ordination of creative and production priorities and requirements; production planning, contracting, legal, safety and human resources issues; consideration of planning a safe event in re-opening theatres (Covid-19).

    Kate Leathers has worked in the cultural sector for more than 20 years. She has held a variety of roles ranging from administrator to production technician and worked at dozens of theatres including the Shaw Festival and more across Canada. She has an MBA in Strategic Marketing. Currently Kate is planning Carousel Players’ 50th Anniversary Festival that will take place regionally over three days.

    Carousel Players present inspiring and creative plays for children ages five to 15 in schools, community venues, and performing arts centres across Southern Ontario. The company has also toured nationally to theatres and festivals in Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Saskatoon, and Vancouver, and as far away as England and Japan.

    About STAC/DART 3P93 – Producing a Performance Event

    STAC/DART 3P93 introduces students to the commitment, hard work, and collaboration required to plan and execute a performance event. Students have the opportunity to bring their practical and leadership skills to work with their peers as a team to replicate a professional experience, including financial, organizational, communication and technical roles. In 2022 this course is taught by Jill Planche, PhD. Jill has a professional background in marketing and fundraising for theatre, opera, film and visual arts, including the Shaw Festival, TIFF and the McMichael Gallery.

    Please note: All Brock University COVID-19 protocols and vaccination policies apply. For more information, please visit Brock’s Coronavirus webpage.

     

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  • Brock students create sound art through experiential learning

    Published in The Brock News | MONDAY, DECEMBER 06, 2021 | by 

    A group of Brock University students have learned to engage with their sonic environments in new and unexpected ways, and are sharing their discoveries through creative sound art.

    This past spring, 72 students in Brock’s “The Culture of Noise” course had the opportunity to gain hands-on sound experience in sound production, execute their own soundwalk recording and learn how to use digital editing software.

    Their work is now being featured on the course’s web page for listeners to take in.

    Offered annually as a Spring/Summer course through the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), STAC 1P99 The Culture of Noise explores the role of noise in music, art and social spaces.

    The course delves into the history of sound studies from the influences of the Dada art movement to the groundbreaking theories of late Canadian composer, writer and influential sound theorist R. Murray Schafer.

    Taught by Ryan Bruce, MIWSFPA instructor, ethnomusicologist, jazz historian and saxophonist, the course had students conduct a soundwalk and create a finished recording that could be included in exhibitions to help build student portfolios for future opportunities.

    Bruce wanted students to really start listening and opening their ears to sound, whether it was music or noise.

    “Composers of the 20th century were very interested in this concept, starting from the early 1900s when noise was used as way to make music,” he said. “Early sound theorists turned music on its head and shed light on the value of listening and our ears.”

    Students worked in teams of three, with one recording a 25-minute soundwalk using a sound recording device; one editing the recording on Audacity (sound-editing software) to produce a final three-minute soundscape; and one reflecting on the process and writing a description to accompany the work.

    Bruce said that soundwalks “are a very interesting exercise, especially these days, as it forces us to be quiet while actively listening.”

    As a result, students learned about how sound impacts environment and gained experience with production tools to express their creative findings.

    David Vivian, Director of STAC and Associate Professor of Scenography in Dramatic Arts, reflected on the timing of this exercise in relation to the pandemic.

    “The last many months of the pandemic have given us indelible experiences that are rich material for creative exploration in sound,” he said. “This past spring’s offering of STAC 1P99 was an excellent opportunity for students from across the University to explore the possibility of sound design to make sense of these troubled times.

    “We look forward to even more provocative and revealing expressions in sound when we offer this online course in spring 2022,” Vivian said.

    To listen to the final soundscapes created by STAC 1P99 students, visit the Culture of Noise web page.

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  • PROJECT: Soundscape, on exhibit September 24

    IMAGE CREDIT: REINHARD REITZENSTEIN

    Music, Noise, and Soundscape: Gayle Young and Ryan Bruce in Conversation

    Created in 2021, Music, Noise, and Soundscape: Gayle Young and Ryan Bruce in Conversation is a virtual project of the Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture homed in the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University. It includes an interview, performances and demonstrations, as well as an outreach activity.

    Gayle Young is a composer and musician based in the Niagara region who creates her own instruments and performs music for them, often employing unusual tunings. She has also performed and recorded works by John Cage and Yoko Ono. Gayle composes works for voice and chamber instruments and creates electronic sound for film and visual art installation. Many of her compositions include environmental sounds recorded through tuned resonators that she invented to integrate harmony and soundscape.

    Gayle wrote The Sackbut Blues, the biography of pioneering electronic instrument inventor Hugh Le Caine (1914-1977), who invented several instruments for electronic music, including the Sackbut, an innovative touch-sensitive keyboard instrument first recorded in 1946. As editor of Musicworks Magazine for over two decades, she presented an inclusive gaze on the world of experimental music.

    Ryan Bruce is an ethnomusicologist, jazz historian and saxophonist. His research concentrates on the transition of jazz styles from the 1950s–1960s (bop and the jazz avant-garde) with investigations in jazz historiography, improvisation, musical analysis, and interdisciplinary comparisons to other avant-garde art forms. His work includes special focus on collaborating with performers to create digital resources for teaching jazz history, improvisation, and world music traditions.

    Ryan holds a PhD in Music from York University and has published articles on jazz criticism, musical analysis, and specific musicians for the current Grove Dictionary of American Music. He is also an active teacher and performer of jazz and free improvisation on saxophone. In 2021, Ryan is teaching STAC 2P93 Critical Practice in the Fine and Performing Arts.

    Experience the ‘Soundscape’ exhibition by visiting the Brock University Digital Scholarship Lab

    Please note the virtual exhibition is best viewed on a laptop or desktop computer. Headphones are recommended.

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  • Much work to be done on live theatre’s road to recovery, says Brock prof

    Editor’s note: The following article tells about the challenges, enthusiasm for, and success in relaunching the performing arts in the Niagara Region, now 18 months into the pandemic. Students of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture may register for the course taught by Professor Fricker, DART 1P91 Introduction to Theatre and Performance, as part of their degree program.


    (above) Brock Dramatic Arts graduate Amanda McDonnell (BA ’15), who is part of the front of house team at the Shaw Festival, welcomed audiences back this summer.

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2021 | by 

    After 17 months, the live theatrical experience is slowly making its return — but not without challenges ahead, says Brock theatre expert Karen Fricker.

    “Amidst the adversity that live performing arts have been faced with through the pandemic, a wonderful thing has happened this summer: the return of live theatrical performance, because it has been able to be outside,” says the Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer in Dramatic Arts (DART), who is an expert in theatre criticism, theatre theory and contemporary theatre.

    The Shaw and Stratford Festivals, two of Ontario’s most celebrated repertory companies, have been staging performances outdoors under canopies (tents with no walls) with mandatory masks for audiences in addition to capacity limits in accordance with provincial guidance. Both festivals are taking audience, artist and staff safety seriously, with COVID-19 protocols in place, says Fricker, who is also a theatre critic for the Toronto Star, writing about performances in the city as well as the Shaw and Stratford Festivals each summer.

    Although these outdoor performances do not come close to hosting the usual number of spectators, Fricker says this is a “big step in the right direction.”

    “Artists are being paid and creativity is happening,” she says, adding that while “innovative digital work has been heroic during the pandemic, experiencing live performances in a shared space is a joyous return.”

    Brock’s Dramatic Arts Department engages with the Shaw Festival in numerous ways, including the annual DART/Shaw internship and course-based experiences with Shaw artists and arts workers. A number of DART students and graduates work at the festival in front of house, producing and administration, and creative capacities.

    Seeing some of those familiar faces at Shaw this summer has been a particular highlight, Fricker says.

    While outdoor performances are a step in the right direction, Fricker says there is still more work to do. There will be limited live, in-person programming in the performing arts sector this fall, mainly due to unclear guidance from the provincial government around reopening, she says.

    In the early summer, the performing arts industry lobbied the government to address live performances in the official stages of reopening. Now that the performing arts have been included, companies have been able to plan. However, “you can’t just lift a theatre production off in a few weeks; you need a runway,” Fricker says.

    Colleen Smith, Executive Director of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) adjacent to Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, says the team at the PAC has experienced these challenges first-hand.

    “Never did any of us whose lives revolve around bringing together artists and audiences believe that we would witness the end of the age-old adage, ‘the show must go on,’” she says. “In fact, the show stopped for months at a time. It’s been an unbelievable period of disruption, heartache and loss of purpose for so many artists and arts workers.”

    Smith says that “buoyed by our partners at the City of St. Catharines and Brock University, as well as the support from our Board of Directors, we have used the first half of 2021 to develop a three-year recovery strategy that will place the PAC firmly within our community as a centre for creative and artistic experiences and learning.”

    The PAC is planning a gradual return, starting with the annual Celebration of Nations gathering, which will be in a hybrid format in September.

    Among the local theatre organizations taking important steps to make innovative work and engage the public in Niagara safely is the young people’s theatre company Carousel Players, which is focusing on new play development in August and September.

    “We are experimenting with a range of forms, including clown, puppetry and mask,” says Artistic Director and Brock graduate Monica Dufault (MA ’11). “We want to offer new pieces that are dynamic and theatrically alive when we meet our audiences again.”

    The company will present an outdoor performance, The Giant Puppet Party, for Culture Days in October, a new digital play for ages 12 to 17 called Meet Chloe starting in November, and a school touring production of The Velveteen Rabbit for ages four to seven in March 2022.

    Suitcase in Point, another St. Catharines-based theatre company, recently announced the launch of a reimagined In the Soil Arts Festival running Friday, Aug. 27 to Saturday, Sept. 25. The festival includes opportunities to see live, original theatre, new music, comedy acts, installations and participatory workshops. All-inclusive festival passes are available for purchase online.

    DART graduate Deanna Jones (BA ’02), the Artistic Director of Suitcase in Point and In the Soil, says the limits of the last 17 months have been a “unique test on our arts organization and the arts community at large.”

    “We knew this 13th edition of our annual In the Soil Arts Festival would be different, and we were determined to find inspired ways to get off of our screens and offer artists and audiences safe ways to connect — in person.”

    During In the Soil, artists from Essential Collective Theatre will be set up on James and St. Paul Street interviewing community members about their pandemic experiences. Working on this initiative are DART graduates Jordine de Guzman (BA ’20), Kristina Ojaperv (BA ’19) and Ren Reid (BA ’20). The project will culminate in the Pandemic Stories Project, a new play to be read at St. Catharines’ Culture Days in early October.

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  • Celebrated Canadian artist Michael Snow’s contribution to Brock revisited in new documentary

    A still image from the new documentary short Timed Images premiering Friday, Aug. 20 at the Mighty Niagara Film Fest. The film was produced and researched by Lesley Bell with video work and direction by Tracy Van Oosten.

    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2021 | The Brock News | by 

    The legacy and impact of artwork created for Brock University in 1972 by internationally regarded Canadian artist Michael Snow has been captured on film and is being premiered Friday, Aug. 20 at a local film festival.

    Part of the Mighty Niagara Film Fest presented by Niagara Artists Centre (NAC), Timed Images is a new documentary that intimately explores two works of public art created by Snow when he was engaged by Brock University and architect Raymond Moriyama during the construction of Brock’s Mackenzie Chown Complex in 1972. Snow holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brock University received in 1974.

    The short documentary is produced and researched by Lesley Bell, artist and retired support staff for the Department of Visual Arts (VISA) at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), and directed by Brock graduate Tracy Van Oosten (BA ’10), artist, filmmaker and current VISA Instructor at the MIWSFPA.

    Bell, who managed Brock’s Fine Art Collection for 18 years, was drawn to Snow’s work and wanted to uncover the story behind his pieces and appreciate how they found their home in St. Catharines.

    Bell and Van Oosten, a filmmaker and artist who works with text, video and installations and explores moving images within immersive contexts, collaborated to create an artistic documentary that retraces Snow’s innovative art that delighted the University population in 1972.

    “In order to tell the story about these two artworks by Snow, I envisioned a video document. I had no understanding of the process,” Bell said. “With patience and skill, Tracy Van Oosten crafted the information that I found into an intelligent and visually stimulating artistic video work. This has been a satisfying collaboration.”

    Timed Images screens Friday, Aug. 20 at the RiverBrink Art Museum in Queenston, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Doors open at 8 p.m., with the screening scheduled to start at sunset. The documentary is part of an art-inspired program at NAC’s film fest called ‘An Ode to Escarpment School Films.

    For more information about Timed Images and to purchase tickets, visit the Mighty Niagara Film Fest website.

    This project is supported by David Vivian, the Director of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, and Dean Carol Merriam of the Faculty of Humanities, through the Dean’s Discretionary Fund (2020). An installation for the public to view Timed Images at the MIWSFPA and online is currently in development.


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  • New Certificate in Arts Management at the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture

    Beginning in 2021 is the new Certificate in Arts Management at the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture. This is an ideal choice for non-degree students who wish to acquire an interdisciplinary background in arts and culture, and who are interested in applying such knowledge to their initial field of study or in their career.

    It’s also a great way to try out university-level studies as a part-time student and complete a program in less than two years.  An applicant may request to complete the program as a full-time student.  The successfully completed courses may be counted towards completion of a degree program.

    The certificate includes courses from the Centre, the Departments of Dramatic Arts, Music and Visual Arts, the Faculty of Social Science, and the Goodman School of Business.

    University admission standards apply. For more information see the academic calendar.

    Interested students should contact the academic advisor, Mike Gicante at mgicante@brocku.ca

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