Arts Students and Faculty Share Their Talents
As educational outreach, numerous UNC performing groups tour throughout Colorado performing in schools and at professional educational conventions. Thousands more young patrons have the opportunity to experience the arts on campus both as participants and as members of the audience for such activities as Western States Regional Honors Orchestra, All-State Band, the Jazz Festival and the Children's Theatre.
Members of the faculty and student body are active in the arts communities from Denver to Cheyenne, participating is a wide variety of professional and avocational arts organizations. Many local symphonies and chorales include UNC musicians as members and/or directors, as do many church choirs. UNC theatre directors, technical professionals and students are involved with both professional companies and community theatre groups in Denver, Greeley, Ft. Collins, and throughout the region. Visual Arts faculty are widely exhibited in regional galleries and serve on numerous museum boards and community arts councils.
UNC Arts and the Community—Our History
The history of UNC’s role as a community arts resource goes back to the very founding of the institution. The Greeley Tribune saw the strong musical alliance between Greeley and its college in 1923, when it credited the community's "very high reputation" for music throughout the state "to the fine cooperation between the town and the college in promoting an appreciation for and participation in fine music programs."
Several local music groups were characterized by a base in both the community and the young normal school, including Greeley Fortnightly Club, an organization for women performers founded in 1907 and still in existence. Likewise, the Greeley Chorale has had along-standing connection with University faculty, staff and students.
The Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra has involved countless students and faculty in its 90-year-plus history, and has always been under the direction of a University faculty member.
Through the years, musicians from the college have found countless ways to share music with eager Greeley audiences. With the advent of radio, musical groups participated in broadcasts on Greeley’s KFKA and on Denver’s KOA.
In 1931, the summer band concerts on the college lawn had begun and by the late 30s, CSTC was fielding a marching band, dubbed the Pride of the Rockies in the 1950s. In another well-known collaboration of campus and community, UNC and the City of Greeley began hosting the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival in the 1970s, bringing thousands of jazz fans to the community and contributing significant revenue to the local economy.
In 1909, the Normal School began presenting its once-famous May Festivals, featuring fine music and pageantry for the enjoyment of the student body and the residents of Greeley. In 1917, the crowning event of the festival was a concert by the New York Symphony Orchestra. Today, the annual Performing and Visual Arts Gala offers Greeley the opportunity to share the talents of UNC arts students.
The drama program was strong during the school's first six decades, and like the music program, it had exceptionally strong community support. Drama in Greeley had been important from the very beginning; on December 10, 1870, a group called the Greeley Dramatics Association had presented Handy Andy and Dutchman's Ghost, a double bill for the town's first theatergoers. This association, later known as the Greeley Community Players, eventually built a theater and produced plays on a more or less regular basis from 1920 to 1940.
Drama was given departmental recognition in the school's first catalog. Important drama were presented in vigorous competitions held in the old Greeley Opera House.
In 1914, the Dramatics Club was organized, and in 1921, the Faculty Players were organized under the direction of Lucy Neely McLane. English professor Frances Tobey, wrote, coached, and acted in numerous dramatic productions. In 1926, Tobey and McLane founded the Children's Theatre.
The drama program changed significantly in 1933, when Helen Langworthy arrived from the University of Iowa and was given a rare opportunity. President Frasier, who wanted to improve the cultural atmosphere of the now-celebrated summer school, asked "Lang" to establish an educational summer stock group on campus as an experiment.
In 1934, the Little Theatre of the Rockies presented its first season; eight plays were performed in the old chapel in Cranford Hall and four in Estes Park. LTR became Colorado's second summer stock theater (the first was the famous Elitch Gardens theater in Denver) and was an instant success. Since 1934, except for three seasons canceled during World War 11, the Little Theatre of the Rockies has produced its popular summer season.
Continuing the tradition of community participation, UNC students and faculty are active participants in regional amateur and professional theatre companies. All aspects of the art form are represented from theatre design, directing, acting, choreography and dancing.
Establishing themselves early on as pioneers is the field, instructors in art began to emphasize ceramics early in the 20th century, predating any university in the country in this regard. By 1907, the program’s fame had spread to New York and London, attracting pottery experts and collectors to Greeley to visit the ceramics studio.
By 1908, nineteen of the thirty courses available at Greeley’s Normal School were electives and included a wide variety of subjects in the fine arts.
The art department grew over the years from drawing painting and ceramics to include graphic design and photography, and most recently computer art.
Visual Arts has two public galleries. Mariani Gallery in Guggenheim (named after long-time faculty member John Mariani) features traveling shows as well as exhibits by faculty, emeritus faculty and the annual student awards show. The Oak Room in Crabbe Hall is available to students in the department as a place to show their work.
Visual Arts faculty and students were actively involved with Greeley’s Community Arts Center for the Creative Arts for many years, providing arts activities for area children before art became part of the public school curriculum.