Does Rye appreciate the arts?

In Arts & Culture1 Comment

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Loren Hendin takes attendance for our end-of-year shows

Ryerson is filled with students toting cameras around their necks, lugging film equipment, dragging lifesized art projects, sporting the latest trends and in certain buildings even prancing around in dance tights.

A glance at the campus would tell you that students eat, sleep and breathe the arts. But the low student attendance at Ryerson’s various art shows may tell you otherwise.

Multiple end-of-year art shows are held in second semester to display work from students in the faculty of communication and design (FCAD). There’s the fashion program’s Mass Exodus fashion show, photography’s Maximum Exposure festival, New Media’s META graduation exhibition and the theatre school’s Choreographic Works, New Voices and the upcoming fourth-year play Attempts on Her Life.

“We are primarily marketing to different audiences,” says Robert Ott, chair of the fashion school.

The fashion school has been putting on Mass Exodus for more than 20 years. With around 5,000 guests attending every year, Mass Exodus is the largest student produced fashion event in Canada. The show is well known to industry professionals and the media, but Ryerson students are left in the dark. Ott says they market first to friends and family, sponsors, media, future applicants to the program and then to Ryerson students. The same goes for Maximum Exposure, META and the theatre school’s shows.

“They might have heard of it,” says Carina You, organizer of Maximum Exposure. “But in terms of details they probably don’t know what it is.”

Maximum Exposure showcases film and photography work from image arts students. It’s a part of the Contact Photography Festival, which is the largest photography festival in the world and takes place in the Queen Street gallery district. This year Maximum Exposure will be held at the Gladstone Hotel, and not being on campus may account for students not making it out to the show.

“It’s moved from being a school show to being a legitimate exhibition,” says Yu.

META deals with another problem. It’s only five years old and not widely known on campus yet. They’re trying to get the student population’s attention with bake sales, social networking, posters and advertising with student media. But project coordinator Ankita Dasgupta, knows that becoming a familiar name to 30,000 students won’t happen overnight.

“It’s just a matter of time for it to become recognized,” she says. “Until people hear it over and over again.”

Most Ryerson students have heard of the theatre school, but that doesn’t mean the productions put on by the dance and theatre programs get any higher student attendance. Shows at the theatre school cost anywhere between $12 and $18, which many students just aren’t willing to spend.

“It’s university and you need to think about what you’re spending your money on,” says Petra Popescumoody, the PR and events coordinator for the theatre school. “People would rather stay home after a hard day at school than go to a show.”

Students in FCAD are more familiar with the shows in their faculty because many of the programs work together to stage each show.

Karen Labis, a second-year photography student does see the value in attending these shows.

“They have something to do with my program so I think it’s important for me to see what’s going on.”

Photo by: Arthur Mola


  1. As a Ryerson student I have heard nothing of these shows except for Mass Exodus. Why not include information in this article about when and where these shows are?

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