University Park, IL,
16:58 PM

Opinion: Finding art within Governors State University

A man on stage addressing a show's audience

The hallmark of meaningful art is found in the investment we make to create and sustain it. In our case, at the Center for Performing Arts (The Center), the clearest path to expand is found within the staff who serve our ambitions to grow. It was therefore ideal to create a project like It’s a Wonderful Life to amplify their gifts. We utilized what we already had, an inborn greatness of artistry and expertise. Within the Center and Governors State University (GovState), some of our missed opportunities are through looking outward instead of within our GovState ‘home.’  We don’t always leverage the creative beauty found within. We are a thriving arts hub that remains somewhat untapped, but holding infinite possibility.  

Perhaps it is a commentary on life that we forget our professional life IS an art. We are artists who often shine in a multiplicity. Cherise Stone (Adjunct Professor - College of Arts and Sciences) in her exceptional musicianship, leads a band and curates her own radio station. Taylor Rogers (Assistant Professor – College of Arts and Sciences) is an amazing multidisciplinary creator of film, dance, humanity, and movement. Jeff Stevenson (Director and Curator of the Nate and Visual Arts Gallery) may be the driver of our fine arts experiences for GovState, but he, himself, is an incredible artist in same. Katherine Carl (Assistant Professor – College of Business) is a brilliant singer and actress. Even our President and Provost have a core of artistry that make them sparkle. The list goes on. If we rise by lifting each other, we build the Center for Performing Arts by starting from its foundation: US. Self-production shines a light on the deeper artistry that makes us whole. 

It’s a Wonderful Life was ideated by Whitney Minarik (Arts in Education Director) and brought to life by Jane Cox (Cultural Marketing Director) and Michael Krull (Technical Director), combined with our staff, friends of the Center, and community from our Southland. This collective elevation of talent equalized us to a common goal, placing art at the center of our lives. This is the core of our intentionality here at the Center for Performing Arts. 

Our goal at the Center is to involve people in what we love.  They may, in turn, love it too. If we engage others to have opinions, they invest, contribute, and sustain. As we plan our season in 2024, you’ll find a dedicated intentionality in creating a community base of traditions and a sense of ‘home.’ The Rocky Horror Picture Show, It’s A Wonderful Life, a summer community series, and the re-engagement of the Illinois Philharmonic are to be annual events for us to come together in expression and experience. We will further expand our partnering within our colleges and our educational reach. We will couple this with a constant inclusion to become relevant, connected, and essential to the core artist found in all of us.  

Art as accessible and active is what we strive to bring to all facets of the Center. It’s a simple act. With It’s a Wonderful Life, we did not seek art, we found it in one another. That is the gift. Art is a gift. How lucky we are at GovState to be given it every day. 

Scott Sowinski 

Executive Director

Center for Performing Arts