In the battle to maintain student involvement in the arts on campus, these guys are the special forces. Arts Ambassadors is a new student group that uses off-the-wall marketing campaigns and creative performances around campus to bridge the gap between Hopkins Center events and everyday student life.
Arts Ambassadors kicked off the term with a meeting and brainstorming session at the Bentley Theater last Wednesday.
As founder of the group, Hopkins Center Student Marketing Coordinator Michael Amico ’07 hopes to inspire new interest in the myriad performances and events available to students — a demographic whose attention can be difficult to grab.
“We want to give more initiative and power to students in getting the word out about arts at Dartmouth,” Amico said at the meeting, which garnered a sizeable student turnout. “There is so much that can be done and should be done.”
Clearly, the group wasn’t created to just hang posters and distribute pamphlets. Amico stressed his firm belief in “untraditional types of marketing, guerilla-type marketing.” At the meeting, the ambassadors discussed a number of potential advertising campaigns for Hop events, including impromptu theatrical displays at Thayer, performance after-parties attended by the artists and online forums where students can voice their thoughts and read up on coming attractions — all for the sake of getting the word out and sparking discussion.
One idea was to stage a mock arrest of “draft dodgers” in Food Court to inspire interest in the upcoming hippie musical “Hair,” set to show at the Hop starting Nov. 8. Amico hopes that such interactive displays will take issues seen on stage — like the threat of getting drafted — and place them firmly in a context people can relate to.
“As a student at Dartmouth, I wished that more students knew how art, especially student performances, could be pertinent to their lives,” Amico said via email.
He emphasizes reinvigorating the student body’s interest in Hop events by any means necessary.
“We might try something and get in trouble for it, but I’ll take the heat,” Amico joked.
Arts Ambassadors aims to open up a dialogue about art among students, not just for the sake of attendance at Hop performances, but also for the greater good of the arts scene on campus.
“We want to create a forum for feedback and discussion after you see something at the Hop,” Amico said. “That’s the point of art at an educational institution.”
He emphasized that the Hop exists because of the student body. Undergraduates should, therefore, have a prominent role its events, not just as performers and spectators, but as active members of the arts community who extend their experiences into everyday life.
The students who get involved with Arts Ambassadors will define what the group becomes. Amico wants to accommodate members who prefer to stay behind the scenes or generate ideas, as well as those who like being on the front lines staging performances and interacting with the community.
“Being a new student group, I didn’t want to design it too restrictively,” Amico said. “It’s more about students coming up with the ideas and us helping you to make it a reality.”
He recognizes the challenges of starting a group from scratch on a campus that is already saturated with them.
“It is hard to carve out a unique identity at Dartmouth because there are already groups for everything,” Amico said. “It sometimes takes a while to get going, but it’s the best time to get involved!”
Ultimately, the program is about students getting the word out about art that matters to them — without needing to cut through the red tape of the established system.
“We live in this hierarchical institutional structure. It is both useful and presents challenges,” Amico said, referring to the various layers of approval groups must get from administrators before they can hang posters or use the Green, for example.
“My hope is for Arts Ambassadors to advertise in ways that are as creative as the performances of artists at the Hop. The energy that goes into our advertising campaigns should be the same energy that goes into performing on stage,” he said.
“Arts Ambassadors aims to satiate the hunger for student recognition and visibility in the arts at Dartmouth. Students no longer have to do that on their own.”
Arts Ambassadors held its first meeting last Wednesday, but the group is open to new members who are excited about the arts at Dartmouth.