At the center, we thrive on connecting people through arts experiences. The primary point of connection between performer and spectator is our way of serving a greater good of enriching the lives of our patrons through dynamic arts experiences. It is hard to express in words how joyful it has been this past year to return to doing what we do best.
After a year of restrictions on public events, we were able to relaunch our Presenting Series starting with Matthew Morrison’s season-opening performance. I had the privilege of introducing him and the energy in the room was palpable. Not only did he draw an impassioned group of fans out for the performance but the sense of gratitude we experienced for bringing back live performances was quite humbling.
As great as the opportunity is to host visiting artists, it has been even more inspiring to see our students return to the stage. The Department of Film, Television, and Theatre hosted a series of cabaret-style performances in the Philbin Studio Theatre as well as a mainstage performance of the acclaimed play, This is Modern Art. Music department ensembles returned to our concert hall culminating with the annual holiday spectacular featuring the Notre Dame Glee Club and the Notre Dame Symphony.
One of the biggest highlights of last year was not an arts event, per se. The Moment to See, Courage to Act symposium organized by the Office of the Provost encouraged faculty and staff to come together in small groups and make brief presentations on a wide variety of topics now under consideration for the University’s upcoming strategic plan. This event was a personal highpoint of the past year as I participated in planning for the arts gateway presentation, a collaborative project which advocated for the development of an arts district on the south end of campus. But I was also invigorated by conversations with peers who attended the event, many of whom I had not seen since well before the start of the pandemic.
There have been some setbacks. We hoped to feature performances from Alvin Ailey, Dame Emma Kirkby, and most notably, the Boston Pops this fall but various COVID-related factors forced us to either postpone or cancel these events. Our cinema program has also relaunched but attendance is significantly lower than usual, not unlike most theaters across the country. Other events that were planned with notable guests in-person had to be reconceived in virtual formats.
As we start a new year, we are in yet another place of uncertainty. For the Spring 2022 semester, the University has released a set of guidelines to ensure safety as the omicron variant spreads around the world. Indications from major cities offer some hope with rapid spread of the virus leading to sharp peaks in cases followed by quick declines. Here at DPAC, we wait and hope but soldier on because, following such a positive start to the academic year, we could not be happier to be getting back to the work we love.