The fine arts department puts on a variety of showings around campus and several places in town. Some of the more questionable places, at least for me, are the churches.

We live in an era where the No. 1 battleground is church versus state. These traditional performance spots are going to come under some scrutiny.

However, I do acknowledge that there are several defenses for why the fine arts department performs in churches.

As far as real estate in the community goes, churches are some of the cheapest theaters the university can rent out. The Granada might be amazing, but it comes with a comparatively heavy price tag.

The budget crisis and cuts have been discussed ad nauseum, but the fact that, especially moving into this year, this fiscal point is very valid hints to deeper issues afoot. The last publicity Emporia State wants is its art department on corners selling cookies in competition to the Girl Scouts, but there’s a real possibility if things continue the same way.

Most churches are designed with sound quality of the stage in mind. The pastor has to proselytize effectively and the choir has to be able to project better than the tone-deaf flock.

It’s sad though, that this very sound quality is a draw over any other place on campus. Have we not also built stages and halls made for performances? There’s no reason for a funded business to have inferior construction to a non-profit.

The final reason given was community outreach. This is technically true, but it’s not an all-encompassing community outreach; it is a very specific community.

Not only are the non-religious among us less likely to attend any concert in a church, but the piece choice is almost always religious as well, ostracizing the reluctant attendee even more.

Also overlooked are the beliefs of the choir themselves. It’s accepted that a well-rounded musician will perform all types of pieces, but it seems insensitive to force multiple religious performances on the unevangelized or those of a differing faith.

The onus isn’t all on the school though. The students are more than capable of presenting alternate venues, and we are nothing if not problem solvers.

Hornets have to care and have to make their voices heard. Get out on social media or drop a note by the Beach Hall office and make the faculty aware this is an issue that must be changed, or at the very least, addressed.

Editors note: The previous version of this story was not updated, so it has been reuploaded to match the correct version. 

(2) comments

RoushM

I find it interesting that not a single member of the choir or music department was interviewed for this. As a vocalist and a music major I can attest this selection of music is varied, and that we discuss at length why we perform where and what. And are encouraged to speak with our professors. Also we perform at the Granada and ATH as well as the church locations. Which are used for acoustical purposes not for religious reasons.

MSimmons

I find it interesting you think interviews need to be conducted for an opinion piece and that the writer doesn't count as "a single member of the choir or music department." I can attest, as an ESU alumni involved in the English department, the music is only as varied as rearrangements of tradional Gospel songs can be and, at least when I attended, we were never involved nor informed about the concerts or pieces beyond "be there and sing this." Besides, the reason for the choice of venue is irrelevant to the purpose and points of the piece.

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