The UCA celebrates 10th anniversary, reflects on collaborative success

Julia Trowbridge

Editor’s Note: The original article published on Sept. 25 stated Peter Muller as Peter Miller and has since been changed to the correct last name of Muller. The Collegian sincerely regrets this mistake. 

From humble beginnings scattered around the Oval to the old Fort Collins High School, the University Center of the Arts at Colorado State University allows for the arts to collaborate and flourish.

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Broadway veterans Patty Goble and Noah Racey coach acting students through a scene during the musical theatre workshop at the UCA’s 10th Anniversary Open House Program. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

For their 10th anniversary, the UCA hosted an open house on Sept. 23 to showcase some of the current projects created in the space. Although the UCA is newer than most of the buildings on campus, it has fostered creativity and collaborations among many departments.

“Music, theatre, dance, (and) design all happen in this building,” said Jennifer Clary, director of communications for the UCA. “Everyone has a different perception from a different area that they’re passionate about, and a different use of the building.” 

Before the UCA, the music, theatre and dance departments were scattered around the Oval and other buildings currently hosting Administration and The Institute for Learning and Teaching. The buildings weren’t well suited for the growing number of students and advancing technology of the performing arts.

“We couldn’t really function as a department collaborative because everyone was in their own space,” Clary said. “The spaces were not up to par from the state of the art technology and even comfort, like air conditioning (standards). There wasn’t room to grow and to fully be who we could be.”

“Art can serve other disciplines. The connections are just limitless. We try to make the museum not just (about) visual arts, but to show how the visual arts can serve everything.” -Lynn Boland, the director of the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art.

The UCA provides 15 theaters and practice spaces, one exclusively for dance, as well as the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art and the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising. Between large performances and smaller events, the UCA presents around 300 performances a year, said Peter Muller, the events manager for the UCA.

“There’s a large population of Fort Collins that don’t know everything that’s going on over here,” Muller said. “We have patrons all the time that come for one thing and don’t have any idea that we have these other performances.”

With placing the performing arts in one building, the departments can easily collaborate on different projects and respond to the art around them. According to Clary, projects include dance classes performing in response to art pieces in the Museum of Art, dance and orchestral groups performing together and operas where vocalists and the orchestra perform together.

Schedules and tickets for performances can be found at csuartstickets.com or on the UCA’s website
CSU students are not charged for tickets.

The UCA also tries to collaborate outside of the arts. The Museum of Art is looking to bring in an electromagnetic sculpture in January, and is bringing in Brian Jones, the director of the Little Shop of Physics, to analyze the piece, said Lynn Boland, director of the Museum.

CSU theatre major Kyle Phibbs designs a mask for the upcoming opera. Phibbs is one of the costume designers for this show and has to make 16 masks for the production. The masks vary based on the role of each performer; dancers wear full-faced masks, while singers wear half-faced masks to allow full flexibility when singing. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

“Art can serve other disciplines,” Boland said. “The connections are just limitless. We try to make the museum not just (about) visual arts, but to show how the visual arts can serve everything.”

Departments in the UCA look to collaborate with the community in addition to other departments. The dance department hosts outreach events that show dance students other career paths and give the community an opportunity to dance, said Emily Morgan, a dance professor at CSU.

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“It brings an art form that is often considered an elite art form to the community and it shows that actually, we can all dance,” Morgan said. “And there’s opportunity for everybody and dance.”

Over the next ten years, the UCA hopes to increase collaboration between departments, Fort Collins’ interest in the arts and is looking to add a new musical theatre major.

“I would like to think that in the next ten years that even my grandest hopes and dreams are surpassed by what’s possible from the collective energy of this space,” Boland said.

Julia Trowbridge can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.