Arts, apps showcased at Mount Allison/AUCC community event

Tribune-Post Staff
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Culture Days 2013, organized by Commerce professor Dr. Rosemary Polegato’s arts and culture marketing class, was one of the projects presented during the AUCC/Mount Allison Open Doors, Open Knowledge event, celebrating community engagement on November 15 at Mount Allison University.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – On Friday, Nov. 15, Mount Allison University opened its doors to the community as part of a national university open house – Open Doors, Open Knowledge – organized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

In keeping with this year’s theme “University-Community Engagement”, three unique projects were presented at Mount Allison: the Culture Days initiative by Commerce professor Rosemary Polegato; App camps for middle-school students by math and computer science professor Laurie Ricker; and the Owens Art Gallery community programming by community and education outreach co-ordinator Rebecca Blankert.

“We are pleased to be taking part in the annual AUCC Open Doors initiative,” says Robert Campbell, Mount Allison University president. “This year’s theme – community engagement – is one near and dear to Mount Allison’s heart and we are delighted to highlight such wonderful partnerships with our community.”

“Universities are deeply engaged with their communities, as a resource, an economic driver, a cultural hub, and a catalyst for knowledge,” says Paul Davidson, president of the AUCC. “In turn, communities shape universities’ teaching and research, bring new ideas and insight to students and faculty.”

Polegato has spearheaded Culture Days in Sackville through her third-year arts and culture marketing class for the past four years. The national initiative, making art and culture accessible to the general public, sees Mount Allison University student artists and performers share their talent and creativity with the people of Sackville as they shop, eat, do their banking, and pick up their mail each fall. Student artists perform at ten venues in downtown Sackville at the Culture Days event organized by commerce students. Polegato spoke on her project at the Culture Days National Congress this past spring.

Ricker has been an advocate for math and computer science education for youth, particularly females, for her entire career. She has worked to establish several camps and programs for Sackville students, including the popular App camp, held last summer. The week-long day camp welcomed 30 youth, ages 10-13 to campus to learn how to create mobile apps for Android devices. The idea stemmed from a new course developed at Mount Allison– iEntrepreneurship – where math and computer science students partnered with commerce students to develop apps for local businesses and organizations.

The Owens Art Gallery has been a long-standing community feature in Sackville and Mount Allison, showcasing the work of artists from Sackville and around the world, as well as Mount Allison University students. Canada’s oldest university art gallery also has an extensive community-programming component, which Rebecca Blankert helps co-ordinate.

Popular programs include: Family Sundays at the Owens, welcoming children and their friends and family members to participate in art projects relating to current exhibitions; handmade study breaks, which bring local artists and artisans into the gallery to lead informal workshops in activities such as silk-screening and knitting; and the artists-in-schools program, allowing for artist-led lessons in local schools and school visits to the Owens.

Over 40 Opens Doors, Open Knowledge events were held at university campuses across the country over the past week. AUCC is the national voice of Canadian universities, representing 95 Canadian public and not-for-profit universities.

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