Coffee House was one of our first big events this past year that focused on community engagement. This show included a group of hand picked students, some doing duo pieces, others doing solo. The students practiced hard, as well as those on Elan, to put together the show and make it the best they could. In this event, many students performing shared personal writing pieces of their own with the audience. Many outsiders came to Coffee House and were able to witness these performances, which not only promoted writing, but the work of Elan as well.
I watched Coffee House from audience seats the two years before this one, and in this one I didn’t only perform, but was behind-the-scenes as a part of Elan as well. Seeing Coffee House from these two new lights was interesting because on one hand, I was getting ready to perform what the audience would be seeing on stage, and on the other hand, I was helping create what would be seen by the audience offstage (i.e. decorations, objects being sold, etc.) At first there was a lot of pressure I felt from both sides because all I could think about was how perfect everything had to be. In reality, it didn’t have to be perfect, just attention-grabbing and something to show that I cared as both a performer and as an Elan member.
It’s important for Elan to have community engagement events like this because it helps let our name be more known and to be seen for the work that we are doing, like events we put on or take part in, and the book that we create. Community engagement also allows Elan to further connect with the art world around us and opens our eyes to the new opportunities that can be given to us, and the opportunities we can give right back to our community.
Being in events like Coffee House as an Elan member shows me the connection we allow ourselves to have with our art community and how we deepen it to gain more interest from those in the community. In my mind, it is so exciting to see a group of people from the same community come together and enjoy the same thing for the same or similar reasons. Especially after events like this, when the performers are told how well they did, or when members a part of Elan are told how well they do with the book or putting on the event. It’s heartwarming to see that connection and to feel that success, that voice ringing in my head, “Yes, we have touched someone else, someone else sees us.”
That voice in my head, and little things like being congratulated on our work in our community outreach projects only excites me more for the events we are to do in the future. The fact there are always people who recognize us for what we do and they feel connected to us for what we do is so rewarding and it is one of the best feelings I have while on Elan.
– Catriona Keel, Junior Digital Media Editor