By Cynthia Hubert and Jonathan Morales
The show will go on, but Sacramento State’s U-Nite! will have a dramatically different look this year.
The annual celebration of arts and culture, running four days instead one, is an online event rather than in-person this year because of ongoing concerns about COVID-19.
Sac State’s College of Arts & Letters and the Crocker Art Museum will be posting new content each day of the Nov. 12-15 event. Audiences will have access to lectures, performances, musical experiences and a look back at previous U-Nite! performances.
The celebration will conclude with a conversation between Crocker Director of Education Stacey Shelnut-Hendrick and Arts & Letters Dean Sheree Meyer, who will, along with some special guests, reminisce about the nine-year collaboration.
Through U-Nite!, Sac State is able to share the diversity of the college’s research, scholarly and creative activities with an audience that extends far beyond campus, Meyer said.
The event is an important way to “invite our neighbors ‘in’ to see what we’re doing and to reach out and respond to their needs as well,” she said.
Although the COVID-19 crisis has seriously affected culture and arts organizations around the world, in some ways they are more important than ever, she said. U-Nite! 2020 is an example of how artists and other creative people are finding new ways to engage their communities.
“Both the Crocker Art Museum and Sacramento State’s College of Arts & Letters recognize how important the arts and culture are to our emotional well-being, even as we have been unable to meet face to face,” Meyer said. “Providing this opportunity to our faculty to showcase their many talents to other faculty members, students, staff, alumni and community members helps us stay connected and creative.”
The global pandemic and the upheaval it has caused in the arts community is one of the themes that emerged within U-Nite! presentations this year, said An Vo, communications coordinator for the college. Others focus on global and local culture, storytelling, and history, among other areas.
“We have all been cut off from attending our museums, libraries, theaters, concert halls and movie houses during the pandemic. Yet, we crave entertainment and ways of coming together to participate in services and experiences that these organizations offer."
This year’s virtual format allows for a wider reach than ever, especially among alumni who typically would be unable to attend performances in person, Vo said.
“This year has been challenging, but we feel it is still important to get together, even if virtually, to celebrate and showcase our college and faculty work,” she said. “Everyone involved worked really hard to learn and overcome the challenges of planning a virtual event.”
“We have all been cut off from attending our museums, libraries, theaters, concert halls and movie houses during the pandemic,” she said. “Yet, we crave entertainment and ways of coming together to participate in services and experiences that these organizations offer."
Because of the flexibility provided by the virtual format, attendees can participate in multiple presentations that otherwise would coincide
“I want to see all of the presentations and performances,” Meyer said. “This year, I can.”