ASU & ASF Sign MOU That Benefits Students!
- Among the first of its kind in Alabama, which joins a university with an acclaimed national theatre.
By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU.
Alabama State University (ASU) and Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF) are now partners in a new initiative to enhance the learning experiences of students enrolled in the Theatre Arts Department of ASU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. (COVPA).
On Feb. 4, the two entities, under the direction of ASU President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., and Alabama Shakespeare Festival's Artistic Director, Rick Dildine, signed a formal concurrent articulation agreement during a virtual "live" news conference.
ASU'S ROSS SAID THE PROGRAM ENHANCES STUDENT'S VIABILITY
"This agreement allows both ASU and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival to focus on helping to further enhance the artistic education of the University's students who are enrolled in the College of Visual and Performing Arts," Ross said. "The agreement provides a pipeline for our students to learn more about theater from the practicing professionals at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival."
This new agreement will provide for ASU students to have internships, professional training, observations, mentorships, class credits and other avenues of education and professional advancement under guidance of ASU faculty and ASF staff.
"This is a model agreement that will allow our students to learn more about the technical side of theater, as well as various methods of participating and excelling in the arts," Ross stated. "This will broaden the educational and career opportunities of our students and will help by building pathways of diversity and artistic enrichment for them in acting, technical production and leadership roles in the arts and entertainment sectors."
ASF'S ARTISTIC DIRECTOR BELIEVES ‘SOMETHING SPECIAL IS HAPPENING’
ASF artistic director Dildine stated that he believes that the agreement furthers the mutual goals of both ASF and ASU by providing greater artistic and technical opportunities and career growth for the University's students.
"My first introduction to ASU’s Theatre Department was through one of its graduates, Charlie Hudson III, who has gone on to great acclaim on the stage and on screen," Dildine said. "He (Hudson) told me, ‘Something special is happening in Montgomery’ and he was right. Something special is now happening between our two organizations," Dildine stated. "It is an honor for our organization to partner with you (ASU). I am looking forward to working with the students and faculty at the University.”
Dildine stressed that Alabama Shakespeare Festival is dedicated to diversity and equity in the arts.
"This partnership with such an esteemed historically black university like ASU and its College of Visual and Performing Arts, furthers our mutual goals of providing opportunities for BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) students to gain experience and build networks that will help launch their careers as leaders and artists in the theatre."
Dildine also praised Brian Martin (ASU's interim chairman for the Theatre Department) and ASF’s director of Production, Kim Church, for their roles in facilitating the agreement.
PURPOSE OF THE JOINT 'MOU' AGREEMENT
Dr. Tanjula Petty, ASU's assistant provost of Student Success and Special Initiatives, believes that this agreement will provide an opportunity for ASU students to go much farther in the arts.
"Alabama State University is continuing to promote student success through building partnerships and providing continuous opportunities for its students. Such partnerships further demonstrate our living up to our mission of being a comprehensive, diverse, student-centered public historically black university that is committed to global excellence in teaching,” Petty said.
ASU's Brian Martin stated that he is excited about this new relationship between Alabama Shakespeare Festival and ASU.
"I am confident that it will open up new doors, insights and opportunities for the University's students by building a bridge to such an acclaimed and prestigious national theater as ASF," Martin said.
PRAISING FOUNDATION LAID BY RETIRED ASU DEAN TOMMIE STEWART
Ross, Dildine and the newly appointed dean of COVPA, Dr. Wendy R. Coleman, paid tribute during the formal ceremony to former COVPA dean, Dr. Tommie "Tonea" Stewart, for her many contributions to ASU’s Theatre Arts program and to the Shakespeare Festival, where she volunteers.
“I just want to thank Dr. Stewart for all of the years that she poured into the college and to the department of Theatre Arts. She certainly planted the seed in all of us (graduates),” said Coleman. “I look forward to the fruit of this new partnership with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival as we work on behalf of our students.”
ASU IS GRATEFUL TO ASF'S COMMITMENT TO THE UNIVERSITY
“Anytime we are able to establish or advance a partnership that benefits our students, it is a big win for the University," President Ross said.
"ASU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts has a longstanding history of being involved with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. This MOU signing formalizes that relationship and provides even greater opportunities for ASU students to be exposed to and work alongside industry professionals. I believe that this MOU can become a model for how programs in the arts can be a pipeline for students,” Ross added.
ASU news media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.