Students and faculty share their thoughts on the UCF Celebrates the Arts cancelation

UCF's Opera program

The cancellation of the sixth annual UCF Celebrates the Arts festival has been met with feelings of disappointment and heartbreak by its performers and organizers.

Senior music education major Lydia Castillo said the news didn’t hit lightly.

“I was doing normal stuff and then I got the email that UCF Celebrates the Arts was gonna be canceled and I was crushed," Castillo said. "I think that was the moment I understood how serious this virus is. Obviously, I was heartbroken and I had a good cry out of that."

UCF Celebrates the Arts is held to showcase creativity, innovation and collaboration from the College of Arts and Humanities programs and was set to take place April 7-19 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando, according to the Arts at UCF website.

The festival isn’t expected to be rescheduled due to a time frame constraint with the Dr. Phillips Center, said Steven Risko, UCF's School of Performing Arts marketing director.

Castillo said she was supposed to take part in a prism concert— a presentation of many musical facets— as part of her chamber singers class. She began preparing for the concert as soon as the spring semester began, she said.

For Castillo, she said this year was her last chance to perform in the festival. Although she has participated in the past, she is disheartened by the fact that she didn’t know her last performance would be the last, she said.

Nonetheless, she said she is glad she got to participate in the festival in the past and is comforted by the hope that more people will experience it in the future. She said she understands the circumstances under which the festival was canceled and believes the right decision was made to ensure the community’s safety.

On the opera side of things, sophomore vocal performance major Mitchell Klavins said he felt devastated by all of the hard work his colleagues and himself had put in. But, like Castillo, he said he knows the safety of the community is more important.

Klavins and the rest of the opera program received the music for the Opera of L’Italiana in Algeri before the semester even started and had been working on it since then, he said.

“We were really proud of the work we had done,” Klavins said. “Our hope is that we get to show some of what we have done, maybe next semester.”

For Klavins, five to six hours of his week were dedicated to rehearsing, whether it be learning his music or becoming one with his character, he said.

He said that he will miss seeing and rehearsing with his classmates. However, he said that students shouldn’t be discouraged by this situation but rather use it to work their craft.

Like Castillo and Klavins, there are hundreds of other individuals who will be affected by the cancellation.

Michael Wainstein, the performing arts director and festival producer, said in an email that the festival had 24 people on the steering committee, approximately 750 students and faculty, thousands of attendees were expected and more than 1,200 high school students were to take part in the offered workshops.

He said cancelling the festival was a difficult decision to make because everything was pretty much ready to go.

“Hundreds of hours of rehearsals and hard work without the opportunity to present them for the public,” Wainstein said in an email.

Director of Orchestras and String Music Education Chung Park said in an email that getting the news of the cancellation was gut-wrenching.

Park said there are bigger things than the performances to worry about at the moment, but he is sure they will emerge from this in a way that honors the work of the faculty and students participating in the festival.

Park said this situation will help people rediscover the importance of social bonds and the activities that create them — which includes the arts.

“The arts are one of the priceless threads that hold our societal fabric together,” Park said in an email. “I hope we'll remember this when all of the dust settles and we resume our lives.”

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