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The Arts: A Community Collaboration


Lighting, set design, sound!

Two hundred Spokane-area Girl Scouts learned about these and other elements of drama during a summer 2018 workshop led by students in Whitworth's USITT club (United States Institute for Theatre Technology). The students provided hands-on instruction about scenery, props, makeup, technical components, costumes and more at stations in Cowles Memorial Auditorium, and they concluded the day with a performance.

The experience was a win for all involved. The students planned the workshop and taught concepts and skills they had learned in the classroom, while the Girl Scouts boosted their confidence and capabilities.

"This was the first backstage theatre experience for many of the girls," says Maria Sorce, the club's advisor and auditorium technical director. "They had the opportunity to see how we put all of the theatrical elements together to create the final product for the audience." 


The new mural gracing a wall of the A&T Brake Supply building in Spokane's Hillyard neighborhood is the result of a true community effort.

Hillyard resident Jack Miller raised money through area businesses, and enlisted the help of Professor of Art Katie Creyts and her fall 2018 Community Arts in Practice class. The students did historical research and then divided into teams to create design proposals. Community members voted for their favorite design, and the class went to work painting the mural. Business owners provided scaffolding, paint and access to a sink for cleanup.

"I feel proud," says Melissa Jones '20, who served as lead designer. "I drive by with my friends and family."

Creyts says the class did a stellar job. "They worked hard, with positive energy," she says. "The community shouted encouragement, took photos, offered their thoughts on trains, and looked for painters for other projects." 


Music major Carly Bair '20 has played piano at three Spokane retirement homes as part of Whitworth’s service-learning curriculum. Professor of Music and Director of Keyboard Studies Judith Schoepflin sends her piano students to play at local retirement communities, shelters and group homes.

For Bair, the experience is a poignant reminder of the power of music. "The residents and I have a substantial age gap, yet a few familiar songs bring us together," she says. "Every visit, I am blessed with collaborative music-making with some of the most joyful people I have ever met. This experience has helped me step outside the comfort of my usual social circles and bring the joy of live music to the Spokane community."