‘K-scope’ team prepares to launch two-week festival


child painting at children's day event

SRU's Kaleidoscope Arts Festival will offer a Children's Day program from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 23, at SRU's environmental Macoskey Center on Harmony Road. The family-oriented event will offer crafts, games and earth friendly demonstrations.

April 1, 2016

Kaleidoscope logo

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - When Slippery Rock University opens its annual Kaleidoscope Arts Festival April 14, Deanna Brookens, festival director and instructor of theatre, will check off another "task accomplished" in the planner that has been her constant companion since fall.

"We got started with Kaleidoscope planning in September, navigating through the various committees, lining up guest artists, as well as lining up student and faculty presenters from the various departments on campus," Brookens said. "Now it's all coming together, and we're thrilled to be in a position to connect people through these communal experiences. That is what Kaleidoscope is all about: bringing people together for the arts."

Kaleidoscope, SRU's annual arts festival, runs from April 14-28. This year the festival will feature close to 30 dance, theatre, music, literary and visual arts events.

Student artists and SRU faculty have amped up their repertories and will offer a senior dance concert; music concerts featuring flute, jazz, trumpet, orchestra, saxophone, woodwind and string chamber performances; theatre of psychological horror; Sixty Second Lectures from the Frederick Douglass Institute; and a "Bollywood Night" of Indian cuisine, henna tattoos and dance.

In addition to the SRU led performances, Kaleidoscope will feature two artists-in-residence: multi-disciplinary artist, Tim Stapleton, who will present his play "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," and Paul Roden of the Pittsburgh-based Tugboat Printshop.

While the "front of the house" draws people to the festival, it's the months of planning, email and cell phone queries, contract negotiations, leg work and handling a million little details that made the festival possible, Brookens said.

The work included making room reservations, filing work orders for event set up, handling catering needs, accounting for sound equipment, proofreading, ordering and disseminating publicity materials, managing the budget and more. The devil, as they say, is in the details.

"There is that element of minutiae, such as making sure we have all of the technical needs in place. For example, for Children's Day we need to have a stage assembled, theatre brings the sound system, and we have to make sure there are 16 tables and 72 chairs for our volunteers to set up at the Macoskey Center. Those are some of the things that are on our plate."

Deanna Brookens


Brookens said artist fees must also be negotiated. Some artists work on a set fee, while others negotiate on a sliding scale.

"We have a dedicated committee of faculty members and students working hard to bring each year's festival to fruition, and I really see myself as a facilitator. We are in a great position to offer a really diverse program. We're really proud and passionate about it, and I am excited to continue to increase awareness of our presence in the community."

Brookens said that planning Kaleidoscope is essentially her fourth class, as she teaches three theatre courses each semester as well. Students in her "Studies in Audience Development" class this semester had the opportunity to enhance their classroom studies in a practical way - creating an audience development strategy related to the festival. This year, Brookens said she also has a group of students that comprise the Kaleidoscope Student Advisory Board.

"They have been absolutely phenomenal - talented, dedicated and creative," she said. "From assisting with event planning, to organizing volunteers, to enhancing our social media presence, and more, these students have been essential to the success of this year's festival."

As busy as it's been, Brookens knows it won't slow down until after the festival ends.

"During the two weeks of this year's festival, I'll definitely be staying busy," she said. "When I am not in class, I'll be bouncing around to as many of the events as possible and helping out wherever I can."

Lyric Ackelson, an arts administration and non-profit leadership major from Butler, said her main responsibility has been assisting with the opening celebration.

"My role in the opening celebration, as a student advisory board member, has been to reach out to artistic clubs and organizations on campus," she said. "We are lucky to have groups like the Musical Theatre Society, Art Society and Music Therapy Club who have agreed to participate in the first event of the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival. It has been a lot of fun to see their enthusiasm about being part of the event and coming up with ideas for what they will display and perform."

Casey Squires, an arts administration major from West Mifflin, said Brookens has been open to student suggestions for increasing audience.

"I am currently working on Kaleidoscope's brand new Twitter page, @KScope_Festival, which has been a new experience for me," she said. "The most challenging part about Kaleidoscope is trying to balance all of the events going on throughout the course of the festival, but it is such a wonderful event to be working with that everything is all worthwhile. I will be taking a much-needed nap after everything is over, but mostly I am excited to witness first hand the events that I have helped bring to SRU."

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 | gordon.ovenshine@sru.edu