When junior Matt Cesari was in his first year at Elon, he bounced from one art-related major to another. After dipping his toes in virtually every area, he realized that there was a lack of inter-department community.
To combat this, he worked to build a site to centralize students.
“Everybody needs each other, but nobody knows each other,” Cesari said. “Actors need photographers for headshots, dancers need royalty-free music for performances, guitarists need singers to start a band, filmmakers need actors for their actual class projects.”
Cesari said these collaborators often met through Facebook, asking friends or putting a poster up in hopes of getting people to see it. But there is always the issue of someone not seeing the information in time or the volunteers not being as professionally motivated as the artists themselves.
These are problems Cesari wanted to fix as he began building and eventually founding the Elon Artistic Collective — a website by Elon arts students for Elon students pursuing the arts as a career.
“Our goal is to serve as a sort of platform of collaboration for Elon artists who want to produce great artistic projects, or get involved in the projects of others,” he said.
The organization is open to anyone within the nine arts-related majors: theatre arts design and production, cinema and television arts, communication design, dance performance and choreography, drama and theatre studies, music performance, music production and recording arts, theatre arts (acting) and music theatre. It is also open to anyone in one of the six preexisting student organizations dedicated to the arts: Alpha Psi Omega Honors Theatre Society, Cinelon Productions, Delta Chi Xi Honorary Dance Fraternity, Elon Student Television, Limelight Records and Renegade Productions.
Should a student be interested in joining the site but not be involved in one of the majors or student organizations listed, they may apply and be reviewed for approval by the members, such as Cesari, that run the Collective.
Though Cesari said the organization supports students who are “hobbyists,” he and the members of the Collective wanted the organization to remain as professional as possible, so they ask for students to submit a resume and cover letter to ensure these standards.
“We honestly believe that when student projects have access to the right, specialized talent that their project needs, that both the product and the artist are better for that in the long run,” Cesari said.
Currently, the Collective boasts nearly 50 members and four administrators. Sophomore Tess Tregellas, an acting major and secretary of the Collective, has worked with Cesari to make the site a growing community.
“The hardest part of collaboration is finding the right people to work with,” Tregellas said. “If you have the right group of people, you can thrive and this is a place where you can find those people.”
Tregellas said while the site is still in its beginning stages, the promising number of active members means that the Collective hopes to remain popular and grow even larger in the future. Cesari sees this as a primary vision, too.
“We want it to get to a point where, as an arts student, signing up for the Elon Artistic Collective is one of those things you do in the first week because you don’t want to be left out of the action,” Cesari said.
Eventually, Tregellas and Cesari hope to expand to include alumni members, allowing current students to work directly with someone in their field and allowing alumni the chance to get professional talent for startup projects.
But for the time being, Tregellas and Cesari — as well as the other administrative members — are working to plan events and meetings to bring more students together in their recruiting efforts.
“Talent is our currency. That’s what we offer to artists and that’s what we deal in the most,” Cesari said. “But we have been in preliminary talks with some faculty members about incorporating some of our ideals into classes, trying to bring people together in the classroom in the hopes that it will carry over outside the classroom.”
Workshops and mixers are in the works as well, with Cesari in talks about an “adaption workshop” where short-story writers can team up with film directors to create screenplays. “The ideas,” Cesari said, “are plentiful, and the upcoming semester’s promotion and participation will allot the resources to turn those ideas into an artistic reality.”