Arts Fest: How The Big Tents Make Artists Of Us All

Boston College Arts Festival is the biggest weekend for creativity on campus. It features many of our performance groups and displays talented students and professional poetry, art, and film. Ushered in under the spring weather over O’Neill Plaza, the weekend-long event encourages both the appreciation of and participation in various types of artistic and creative outlets. For musical and dance groups that have been perfecting their craft all year, Arts Fest is a year-end, culminating experience right in the heart of campus. Spurred by the buzz of fellow performers, audiences, and friends, artists can create and enjoy their passion in a low-stress, highly positive setting.

Because of Arts Fest’s wide variety in performances and exhibits, a tightly loaded schedule guides the weekend’s events. From The Tempest to the Symphony Orchestra to a cappella showcases to music from the Irish Studies program, there are plenty of options to suit any viewer’s taste. Because of the tight schedule, groups who have been rehearsing for months are limited to relatively short, one-to-two hour time slots. For musicals and theatrical performances, this means the Arts Fest performances are only highlights––the best of the best squeezed into short and casual sets.

Visiting BC during my senior year spring break, I saw all the white tents along the plaza for Arts Fest and never imagined that I would be a part of it just a year later. Sure enough, as a member of BC bOp!, I will be on the performers’ side of the stage for two elements of this creatively-packed weekend. Just like many of the other independent groups and bands on campus, bOp! has a quick set early in the weekend.

To wrap up the entire Arts Fest experience, though, is the two-hour performance collaboration Dancing with bOp!—where BC dance groups perform their favorite numbers backed by bOp! as their soundtrack. This gives bOp! the chance to hugely switch up our repertoire––turning away from some of our jazz standards (though we do manage to sneak a few into the evening) for Masti’s favorite contemporary South Asian music, Dance Organization of BC’s pop, and Phaymus’ hip-hop and rap. Pulling in friends, family, and audiences of bOp! and so many talented dance groups, Dancing with bOp! is a fabulous representation of all that Arts Fest currently is and has the potential to be. It’s one of the biggest, most well-represented elements of the weekend, engaging so many different BC community members, and it is an enjoyable, upbeat evening for all who come to listen and watch.

On the artists’ side of things, Arts Fest is a way to deliver the best of one’s craft to the community that helped to foster it. It is where friends and peers can enjoy the performances and pieces artists have created over months of preparation. Though it’s often not the most formal or professional of settings, Arts Fest’s lively audiences and engaged participants provide a uniquely refreshing artistic experience.

And if you yourself don’t feel like an experienced artist or performer, Arts Fest is equally as exciting and rewarding for participants and audiences. Listening to spoken word, creating some art yourself, or watching a play, there is no shortage of activities for those interested. It helps that it finally feels like springtime.