UTSA art and music majors dissatisfied with their departments’ event marketing

Students feel that their departments need to do more to support UTSA talent

Zahara Latson, Contributing Writer

As the semester comes to a close, the UTSA Arts building hallways have begun to fill with vibrant, eccentric flyers promoting anything from exhibits and displays to senior recitals, ensemble concerts and more. After a semester full of rehearsals and late-night sessions at the studio, students are collecting their work and performing alongside their classmates to hopefully present their moving compositions and stunning art portfolios to their peers and their family. But rumor has it, that has been somewhat of a struggle. 

Music education student Jessica Lara explains how even though she has been coy about the rumors, the absence of audiences speaks volumes.

“We put on amazing concerts yet we can barely fill one-fourth of the recital hall,” Lara said. “I have never seen a promotion that wasn’t made by the music department about our events.”

With social media being at the forefront of how information about events spreads around campus, flyers and word-of-mouth at a close second. When looking into accounts like @utsa and @utsastudents — which happen to be the top two most followed student accounts for UTSA on Instagram — I found a resounding amount of promotions for clubs, sporting events, exciting things happening all around campus and even recognition of SOSA’s adventures. The one thing missing from the equation of student life, well-being, engagement and involvement was any highlight of the Arts or Music department past their association with sports and pride. 

“[This] makes me upset because we put in just as much work,” Lara said. 

Another contributing factor was brought up by composition student Alex Valles, who emphasized how ostracized interactions between majors can be and how it can be difficult to reach across barriers when it comes to student events.

“If people knew what was happening in the Recital Hall, I think other majors students, other students [with] different focuses and different majors would come to those events instead of [it] just being the same people that are always at that building anyway,” Valles said. 

Eric Treviño

She states that with all the flyers posted in weird places and through word-of-mouth, some students from other majors stumble upon concerts and recitals, but even with those factors, it is not easy to know what is going on. 

“I have some friends that just like straight up, don’t know what’s happening in the department,” Valles said. “I’m someone that talks to a lot of people so I usually do know what’s going on, but if you don’t talk to everybody, then it’s kind of hard to figure out what’s happening. You have to … really know the right people.”

But even with her social abilities, she acknowledges that there are still some blind spots. 

“I never know what’s happening in the Art department,” Valles said. “And that’s literally like across the street from the music side. Like, sometimes I’ll be like, ‘Oh, there’s something going on in the exhibit hall?’ because I happen to see people there. But it’s so rare when I find out.”

But where does the line of needing support end and personal responsibility begin? 

“I think, you know, [the students] need to rely on not just UTSA within [their groups] … but I think they need to be more engaged with the community out there,” Senior Lecturer for visual arts, Juan Mora, said.

Mora actively advocates for students to go to galleries and discuss them. He even takes time out of his class to support graduate student artists and offers extra credit to those who do attend the events at the school.

“A lot of students that want to do more, they’ll look for that help … the opportunities are there,” Mora said. 

Mora did not entirely entertain the idea that the students were being victimized by a system and instead insinuated that students have plenty of incentive to support themselves, but many do or are unable to due to more personal and environmental matters.

“With COVID [and the shut down of in-person activities] it was really challenging because you know, everything changed, you know…but it’s really hard to ask a student who doesn’t have a car, or who’s really struggling a little bit, you know, mentally, emotionally because of all the stress work,” Mora said.

Eric Treviño

“I was a student too,” Mora continued. “And it was really challenging, sometimes not having a car or not having the time. Some of them nowadays, a lot of students they work because, you know, the obvious reasons.” 

Valles backed up Moras’s statement, acknowledging that it is not easy to show up for themselves here when there are other outside factors at play.

“We’re just so busy, that it’s kind of hard to find time to attend to these events sometimes,” Valles said. “And unfortunately, it’s not like the department is really big so, it’s not like we can go through and pack the recital hall every time.” 

While considering the problem, students are hoping that there might be a change, whether coming from the students or from external forces. 

“I think it would be great if we collaborated more with different departments instead of just keeping it to UTSA, like, music students because we are a really great community,” Valles said. “And it’s very nice to know that we have each other’s backs.” 

Valles further pushed the idea that purging people’s ignorance of these events is the answer to getting people involved. 

“Everybody loves music,” Valles said. “You don’t have to be a music major to enjoy it. And I think if people in other departments knew more about our events that are happening and our concerts, I wouldn’t worry that people would definitely come because, I mean, it’s right there. They live on campus. And it’s like, why not go see a show, like on a Friday night?”

With more end-of-the-year performances and expositions coming up, will students and professors be able to uplift themselves? What might UTSA say about its lack of coverage of the Department of Art and the Department of Music? 

Next week, an opportunity to explore what might be the answer to both of those questions, and hopefully get to the bottom of all those empty seats.