Fine arts board adds its first student member

By Courtney Klaus, Editor- In- Chief

A week after a group of students protested, among other things, Newman University’s Fine Arts Board, the board has added its first student member.

Junior theater and communication major Emily Larkin, the current arts and letters representative for the Student Government Association, has been asked the join the board, which was formed last year after the cancellation of an LGBT+ art show. The board reviews pieces of work before they go on the official Newman schedule.  

Larkin was invited to join the board last week, the day after the protest, which was organized by senior theater major Lauren Spencer, took place. Spencer called the protest “Censorship Kills Art” and collected more than 40 student signatures on a petition to support the cause.

Spencer said she organized the protest because of the university’s “past actions… to censor art,” most recently its creation of a Fine Arts Board to oversee potential art and theater productions and by rejecting her play proposal for her senior capstone project. The proposal touched on themes of sex-trafficking and female genital mutilation, and Spencer said she was told the proposal did not pass through the service board.

Chair of the Fine Arts Board and Professor of Theater Mark Mannette said in an email that the Fine Arts Board “had always intended to have a student representative on the board” and that “Emily is a perfect choice.”  

Provost Kimberly Long said in an email that the Fine Arts Board was created last year after the controversy surrounding the university’s decision to the cancel an LGBT+ focused art show in Steckline gallery in January.

“Artists, our students, and the wider community should have an expectation that if we book a performance or showing, that we will follow through. [The Fine Arts Board]’s charge is not censorship. In fact, its charter requires that part of their work is to protect the integrity of fine and performing arts,” she said.

Other members of the Fine Arts Board include Fr. John Fogliasso, Sister Betty Adams, professor of English Susan Crane-Laracuente, professor of Spanish Sonya Bontrager, professor of English Bryan Dietrich, associate professor of art Mary Werner, technical director Daniel Williams, director of music Deanne Zogleman and the director of the Steckline Art Gallery Shannon Johnston.

Mannette said the board is still fairly new and has only had one meeting so far.

PHOTO: STUDENTS STAGED A PROTEST on Sept. 26. One week later, Larkin was added to the Fine Arts Board. Courtesy photo, Elizabeth Urban