University of Calgary students with a hankering for drama, dance, art and music, but only moths in their wallet, have every reason to head over to the University and Reeve Theatres. Thanks to a Students' Union quality money grant nicknamed "Claim Your Seats" students at the University of Calgary have the opportunity to check out any Faculty of Fine Arts show for free by presenting their ID at the box office on performance day.
Vice-president operations and finance Joey Brocke, who helped oversee the quality money application last year as the SU fine arts representative, says this is a good opportunity for students to see the shows on campus, even if they have cash flow issues.
"It was originally talked about as a possible levy," says Brocke. "Students would be charged every semester and everybody would have access. It was kind of one of those, 'I don't know how many people want it, so let's open up a program and gauge.' So we did a quality money application and offset the costs for two years to gather some data and see who is using [it]. If it's a popular program in the future, you open something up in the future of there being something like a levy form of funding."
There are over 40 different events that the Faculty of Fine Arts puts on, from mainstage dance performances like the always-popular Dance Montage to plays, including the four mainstage shows put on by the department of drama.
Not only are drama students performing on campus, they're also working with some of Calgary's best arists.
"We have a lot of fantastic internship programs with Alberta Theatre Projects, One Yellow Rabbit and Theatre Calgary," says fine arts communications manager JoAnn Reynolds. "By coming to see the shows, U of C students are going to see that and be amazed by the talent that's on campus."
Current SU fine arts rep Lindsay Ogden, a student in the drama department, says that it's not only beneficial to students at the university but also to all involved in the productions.
"Definitely for the artists on stage it gives them the house count, but also the people backstage understand the pressure of bigger houses," she says. "That anxiety from bigger houses affects you no matter what you're working on."
One of the major problems the drama department has found is actually putting butts in seats. In this way, students are offered an incredible opportunity says Reynolds.
"It's fantastic," she says. "We're a hidden secret that we're working hard to split wide open on campus. We've got some amazing work of young artists on campus, with drama, dance and music, and they are shaping Calgary and Canada's cultural landscape and this is a fantastic opportunity for U of C students to see it for free first."
Ogden explains that her constituents are abuzzÂ about the initiative, knowing that their requests for support won't destroy their friend's bank accounts.
"I know the drama students that I've spoken to are very excited," she says. "The idea of being able to invite people who couldn't necessarily in the past afford to come and now knowing that you're not burdening your friends by asking them to come. There's a buzz overall -- word's getting out."
Ogden added that, ultimately, it feels good for fine arts students to not meet with blank stares, awkward laughs and a soul-crushing moment when asking, "so, have you seen anything I've put on through the department?"
"As far as students, it's really cool for us to know that the other students are actively involved and aware of what we're doing," she says. "It makes us feel more part of the campus when people know what we're doing and are excited for it."