Interview with Ms. Macdonell on the UCC art community

By Howard Yu

UCC’s art program has always served as an opportunity for students to express themselves creatively. Whether that be painting, acting, playing an instrument or singing, the program has always served as an essential component of everyone’s experience at the college. That being said, it can be difficult for some students to participate in these activities on a virtual platform. We have set up an interview with Ms. Macdonell to discuss the current and future situation of the UCC arts program, as well as her suggestions for students in the art community.

TBAW: Is there any advice you would like to share for students in the UCC art community during these times?

Ms. Macdonell: I advise students to use the extra time they have at home to paint a picture, sing a song, write a poem, dance or play an instrument. Do something creative and take a chance to create something unique, something authentic. If you feel that your creation is really meaningful, I encourage anybody in the UCC community to take the initiative and send videos/photos of their artwork to me. I can include and showcase their work at this year’s Nuit Bleue festival. 

Last year, I remember how one of the older students performed a self-written song in a February assembly. Although the student was not studying music, it was really meaningful because he wanted to say something and express himself. That being said, I would also like to motivate the older members of the student body to leave a legacy or leave a little bit of themselves behind at the college. I hope students can find their passion and be encouraged to work on projects that may offer a bit of themselves.

TBAW: Many of the extracurricular activities UCC had offered has been cancelled or moved to a virtual platform, how has the UCC arts program (music ensembles, drama [plays], film) changed to accommodate these restrictions?

Ms. Macdonell: All of the co-curricular activities have been altered this year. However, the teachers in the art community are experienced in their respected skills and have developed creative approaches to solve these issues. For instance, the music department rented instruments for students to play at home because they were unable to play instruments during music class. On the other side, members of the Blue Notes choir were unable to sing with masks on; therefore, Jamulus (software that enables live rehearsing) was introduced. As a result, many of the activities in the art programs are focused on individual student development. 

In short, it is really important that everyone stays safe, therefore we have initiated creative solutions that follow school guidelines. The art departments have really looked at this situation as an opportunity to reinvent what we were doing.

TBAW: Moving forward, as COVID-19 restrictions are softened, what changes will the UCC art program undertake to ensure a smooth transition?

Ms. Macdonell: I think that the number one priority would be everyone’s wellbeing. People in the community need to be healthy and we need to do our part to take care of each other. As safety restrictions are lifted in the future, we would like to create a memorable in-person Nuit Bleue festival… A real celebration of the ARTS.  It would also be great to include some of the music ensembles in events such as A-day. These moments make everybody feel connected and give students a chance to be a part of a bigger community.

TBAW: Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Ms. Macdonell: It really means a lot to me seeing everybody taking care of each other. It does not matter if you are interested in sports,sciences, art, film or theatre. I applaud anyone who has worn a mask to keep those around them safe.

TBAW: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us!