The first of its kind, the Ohio University Global Arts Festival will mix together music, dance, theater, film and visual arts from around the world for an immersive cultural experience.
The Global Arts Festival will promote diversity at OU through a week of master classes, exhibitions and free afternoon concerts, happening April 1-5, culminating with the ninth World Dance and Music Concert on Friday, April 5. The variety of activities offered to students will introduce them to different ways of conceptualizing the arts and potentially open up new avenues of creativity, expression and aesthetic appreciation.
Paschal Younge, a professor of music education, realized his students had no clue about the world around them, so he and his wife, Zelma Badu-Younge, thought the best way to teach was to have a performance component so the students could see different cultures.
“We realized that bringing the classroom to the stage, the students will also be participating in the performances, not just the artists,” Younge said. “We want the students to be the artists, so they are involved in all the events throughout the week.”
The Global Arts Festival will highlight almost all of the continents in order to educate students on cultures that are not their own.
“We want the students to see the world beyond their own, that the world is not Ohio or America at all,” Younge said. “We want to show that through the arts, because the arts are just something you are able to learn the history of people from.”
Above all, Younge wants to highlight the students, some of whom are not dance or music majors, who are participating in the festival.
“Our special guests are here, but the students will be giving lectures and running workshops,” Younge said. “They’re all working so hard, and everyone wants to be part of it. I’m excited to bring the cultures to the students, and to have the students from outside the U.S. to feel like they belong.”
Some of the students partaking in a number of events during the festival have never traveled outside of the country, so Zelma Badu-Younge hopes they get as much out of the special guests traveling to OU as possible.
“Trying to explain the environment of other cultures is difficult, but when they’re engaging with the artist directly, they can have a broader perspective and just be around them,” said Badu-Younge, a professor of dance. “By asking their own personal questions they have a real and current view of what’s happening in other cultures.”
To Badu-Younge, there’s a lot of people who have misconceptions about different cultures and fears about them because they’ve never experienced a culture unlike their own. Badu-Younge sees the festival as a time for people of all backgrounds to come together.
“This way, they’re able to experience something new about a culture and realize how their perceptions were wrong, and not be so fearful of what’s not known,” Badu-Younge said.
A special component of the Global Arts Festival Badu-Younge is looking forward to is the collaboration among students regarding the language portion of the festival.
“This language piece will be an opportunity for the students and people in the audience to see that you don’t have to be from a particular culture to learn another (person’s) language,” Badu-Younge said.
Nothing said during the event will be translated, so everyone can focus on the beauty of the different languages and how they mix together, Badu-Younge said. She is excited to see different students interact with one another, as well as witness audience members marvel at the mix of languages.
Amanda Carter, an overnight supervisor at Alden Library, tries to take advantage of the culturally-enriching events OU hosts whenever she can. She plans to attend the ninth World Music and Dance Concert.
“This is special for me because my best friend's husband, Mustapha Braimah, is one of the performers,” Carter said. “I know it’s going to be a great show.”