Feb 21, 2020

Summer of Arts

Andrew Riggs / The Collegian

This past summer, some students were stuck in a classroom — not by choice. Staring out the window wishing they were laying out by the pool with friends or simply “anywhere but here.”

Students of the CSU Summer Arts program at Fresno State were experiencing the opposite.

For the past 10 years, Fresno State has hosted Summer Arts, offering two-week long workshops in theatre, dance, music, visual arts, creative writing, new media and arts education. While learning in these workshops, students also gained three units of transferable undergraduate or graduate credit.

Program boasts world-renowned artists

Summer Arts invited the best performers and lecturers throughout the world to help talented students in the California State University system showcase their skills.

The Kronos Quartet enjoys acclaim for its diverse output, recording classical music, Mexican folk music and film soundtracks, among other genres.
Andrew Riggs / The Collegian

More than 500 students attended the workshops ranging in age of 16 to 80 and more than 150 guest speakers and faculty attended to workshops and events.

Students intensely worked for 12 to 14 hours each day — including weekends in intimate settings — and were able to work closely with some of the best artists and teachers in each specific field.

Programs were offered in a broad range of arts from photography, painting, dance, animation, music composition, creative writing, film making and film acting classes.

There were 40 events, in which guests who attended Summer Arts were present at public events, lectures and performances, which took place every evening. Guests included actor Gary Sinise, the Kronos Quartet and flamenco guitarist Juan Serrano.

“I’ve never seen so many standing ovations in my life,” said Jackie Doumanian of the Urban Bush Women performance.
Andrew Riggs / The Collegian

“Most successful” session in 9 years

Jackie Doumanian, Community Relations Specialist for Summer Arts, stated that this year’s Summer Arts was “the most successful,” with the highest enrollment and great audience attendance to the events.

Opening night, June 29, showcased a dance performance by the Urban Bush Women, who dedicate their performances to the use of cultural change as a catalyst for social change. Urban Bush Women uniquely combined dance, music, history, culture and African-American spiritual traditions to show the transformation of struggle and suffering within a culture to joy of survival.

Urban Bush Women have performed around the world, which allows them to carry a diverse audience of fans.

Doumanian added that the audiences were so eager at every event and the performers felt the positive vibes on stage.

Actor Gary Sinise co-founded the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago.
Andrew Riggs / The Collegian

“It was electric,” Doumanian said. “I’ve never seen so many standing ovations in my life.”

Fresno home to Summer Arts for 11 years

Until 2010, Fresno State will host Summer Arts and has already begun its 18 to 20 month preparation for 2010.

Since 1999, Fresno State has won every bid to host Summer Arts, and Doumanian believes it is due to the appeal of Fresno State’s campus. Fresno State carries facilities in theatre, dance and digital labs, with dorms being located on campus and the hotels across the street.

“Fresno is just a great fit for the program,” Doumanian said.

Summer Arts 2009 is already in place at Fresno State. “It’s going to be a challenge to top this year’s,” Doumanian said.

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