Monday, April 9, 2012

Spotlight on . . . Cultural Affairs

Ok, I needed help with this one, I admit.  Luckily I have experts in the field (Well... literally).  Who better to do justice to the subject of Cultural affairs at Pennsic than Deputy Mayor Mistress Catherine Aimee Le Moyne!

Cultural Affairs

Cultural Affairs started out as a disparate bunch of classes and the “Pennsic Stage.” Over the course of over 15 years, it has slowly coalesced into a sprawling campus including 18 University tents holding classes for 10 days, a large and popular Performing Arts tent, a European Dance tent with a beautiful parquetry floor and live music, a Middle Eastern Arts tent, and most recently Artisans’ Row, with extensive hands-on displays over a wide variety of subjects. We also host the annual Arts and Sciences Exhibition in the Barn.
Last year at the Pennsic University we had over 1100 classes taught by more than 500 instructors, and we’re on track to match that this year. We have a fairly lively exchange of information on the Pennsic Teachers e-group; sometimes I think the e-group discussion generates as many new class ideas as it reports! By a rough calculation, we provide more than 20,000 student-hours in 10 days, with classes on everything from basic sewing to astrolabes, SCA for New People to Improv, herbology to CPR. Classes are free and open to anyone interested. (There may be an optional materials fee, and children under 12 must have a responsible adult present. There is a separate schedule of activities for younger children through Youth Point.) The class schedule will be printed in the Pennsic Book, and updates will be made available in the Pennsic Independent (thank you so  much, PI!), on the message boards in front of University Point, and at University Point itself. Class scheduling will continue through Pennsic itself, but if you’re interested in signing up to teach a class, please have it in to us by May 1st in order to be included in the official book (which definitely helps class attendance).

One of our dedicated tents is the Games Tent, which has staff on-hand to teach as well as to play period board games of all types. A favorite especially with the youth, it’s open every day to accommodate our Players.

Performing Arts staged Shakespeare’s Henry V on the last day of performance last year, and it was a resounding success! The stage is filled pretty much every night with a fabulous array of talent from across the Known Worlde. Performances are listed every day in the Pennsic Independent, as well as on the marquee in front of the tent; we may have a signboard in the food court this year as well, and maybe on the information boards as well. The performers are at an ever-increasing level, I’m just in awe of the sheer talent displayed. Come check it out.
Once again we will host the Pennsic Choir in the Performing Arts tent. This hardworking group produces phenomenal sound every year, give yourself the treat of catching their performance this year.
This will be the third year for Artisans’ Row, and it’s been growing and developing apace. We have accomplished artists in a wide variety of arts fields actually working on what they do, and you can come in any time and discuss technique, ask questions, or join in yourself hands-on, either as a demonstrator or a student. It’s very free-form, check the web and the schedule in the book for what’s happening when.

I understand that the Pennsic Middle Eastern Arts offerings are practically legendary in the Middle Eastern community. You won’t find a better introduction to Middle Eastern culture. It started out as Middle Eastern Dance, but has grown to a rich and complex offering encompassing much more. The tent itself is actually located by the Pennsic Independent – go down the hill in front of Midrealm Royal, it’s on the left. The schedule will be on the web as well as in the book, look it over before you get on site.

Finally, the one-day Arts and Sciences Display has been a source of inspiration and amazement for all of its many years. Set up grouped by kingdom, it showcases the best and brightest finished artworks of our incredibly talented artisans. All artists and craftspeople are encouraged to display! To do so, you can either fill out a registration form in advance (I’ll make sure it’s available on the website soon) or just show up on the day of the Display with your work. Lady Rowena will set you up with a place--you never have to leave your work unattended--and you can set up a display however you wish within space limits, and stay and discuss your work with the large number of visitors that make a point of attending the show. For safety reasons, no hazardous processes such as fire or chemical reactions are allowed during the display (i.e.: you can’t actually use the alembic or extract lye from wood ash during the display!), but otherwise there’s pretty much no limit on what you can display.
So regardless why you come to Pennsic, if you enjoy doing or watching arts of any kind, Cultural Affairs has got something for you. Come find us – it’s amazing!

                 Baroness Catherine Aimée Le Moyne, OP
                 Deputy Mayor, Cultural Affairs, Pennsic 41

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