Mercyhurst University is another gorgeous small college campus that I was unaware of, this time in Erie PA. Their Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center contains a large, impressive theater and the organizers have a lot going on. They had already set up a write-up in the Erie newspaper and my schedule was packed. Didn’t even have time to get to the hotel until it was all over.
From the airport, I was whisked immediately to a video interview on the stage of the huge 800-seat theater with Jamie Grady, director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts and Culture. Jamie had done his research, so it was smart, fast-paced and went straight to Facebook and YouTube.
Jamie took me to lunch in downtown Erie, along with his son Kell (who says he wants to be a video game tester when he grows up – 9-year old DREAM JOB). Jamie has only been in his position for 4 weeks, fresh off a two-year adventure in New Zealand working in culture and arts funding, part of a very diverse career.
We talked about the challenges that all arts funding is facing, and noted the parallels between organizations like his and individuals like me. Part of his long-term plan at Mercyhurst is to set up an educational component that is informed by the work her does at the Performing Arts Center. He is very interested in the theory and practice of developing and nurturing dedicated audiences both on campus and in the larger community. Freshmen who are exposed to unfamiliar cultural events because of classroom requirements, for example, are more likely to try something new on their own by the time they are seniors.
Two screenings of BLAST! afternoon and evening, and both well-attended. I’m noticing that even on campuses, the crowd is made up of a lot of older folks. It turns out retirees are great audiences, wiling and able to take advantage of cultural opportunities like this and committed supporters of the arts. They are enthusiastic in discussions afterwards, and very encouraging, providing a nice psychic boost with their kind words for independents like me.
And they buy DVDs! These have been selling fairly well so far. At least enough that I’ve been paying cash for room service and haven’t yet had to go to the ATM so far on tour. Thanks guys! In between screenings, more interviews kept me busy.
First with Alaina Rydzewski, the managing editor of the student newspaper, Merciad. She complained of senioritis and hadn’t seen BLAST! before she interviewed me (big No-No for a journalist, Alaina–remember that when you’re ready to go pro!) But we had a fun chat and her piece is here.
Recording the Open Door Rapport Podcast
Immediately followed by an audio podcast interview with Jim Coyne and Tom Schaefer, two Mercyhurst students who have started a new site of podcasts, called Open Door Rapport. We had a sprawling, stimulating conversation about filmmaking and distribution that was very enjoyable. Keep an eye on these guys!
Back on the plane! Next up my home turf, Rutgers and New Brunswick, NJ!
Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Paul Devlin
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