With all of the ensembles, acapella groups, choirs and dance companies at Ithaca College, it can be easy for students looking to get involved in the arts to get overwhelmed.
Junior Sheila Wallis, a theatre studies and music double major, felt the same way — with so many opportunities floating around campus on flyers, bulletin boards and hallways — she did not know all of the options available to her. In order to make finding artistic organizations less overwhelming, Wallis started the Facebook page “Ithaca College Arts, Auditions and Opportunities,” which currently has 173 likes, and @ICArtisticOpportunities, on Instagram, with 125 followers, to centralize the multitude of auditions and creative job opportunities offered at the college.
Wallis, who is also a resident assistant for freshmen, said it was difficult to alert her residents of all of the opportunities offered on campus. So, after seeing a similar account for the Central New York Area, she was inspired.
“I remember explaining to one of my residents, ‘Oh, you go to this page, and this page, and this page and this page,’ and it was just so confusing to find any types of opportunities,” Wallis said.
While students have IC Engage to look for opportunities on campus, the site displays every organization on campus, not just arts organizations. IC Artistic Opportunities has a specific focus and a designated target audience.
Wallis said she started the Facebook page in Spring 2020 before the college transitioned to remote learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wallis said that because of this, the account never had the chance to establish a presence. With the return to campus for Fall 2021 and audition season ramping up with in-person student organization meetings, Wallis started an Instagram page before summer 2021 began. She said she is hoping to build the accounts to reach more students at the college.
“My goal this year is to just get the attraction, to get more people to know about it,” Wallis said. “We have such a diverse artistic community here, and I wanted it to be for anything, just one unified, centralized location, just to make it simpler for everyone involved.”
For Fall 2021, Wallis has advertised Ithacapella auditions, the Macabre Theatre Ensemble auditions, Ithaca College Showchoir and IC Defy Dance Company auditions on the Instagram and Facebook pages.
Wallis said she mainly finds opportunities through different organizations’ Instagram pages and reposts them onto @ICartisticoppurtunites’ Instagram stories. She said running the pages by herself can be difficult because she has to constantly be up to date with what clubs around campus are posting.
“Right now it’s just me creating the folders, creating the highlights,” Wallis said. “Since we’re kind of entering the prime audition season for things like [Defy], all the acapella groups, I feel like this is like the perfect time for me to start streamlining things. I even printed up posters for all the RAs in my cluster.”
Junior Linnea Carchedi said she has watched Wallis go through the process of creating the accounts and that Wallis, despite the obstacle of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been smart and enthusiastic about building a following.
“But despite this major setback, she persisted and created the Instagram account to reintroduce her idea to IC, which was very smart as many IC clubs and organizations operate on Instagram,” Carchedi said via email.
She is a co-director of Ithaca College Showchoir and said the account is beneficial to clubs and their potential participants alike.
“ Looking at the page, I knew it was going to be super special and valuable for the artistic community at IC,” Carchedi said. “As the co-director of an artistic organization that is looking for new members, Sheila’s account makes me optimistic about the possibility of getting more interest as well as space to showcase what we’re doing.”
Junior Sammi Fieri, president of Premium Blend, Ithaca College’s only all-female aligned acapella group, said the account is a great resource for organizations that are looking for new members and to publicize their audition information.
“When trying to get the word out, it’s important to use every possible resource to do so in order to reach as many people as we can,” Fieri said via email. “The more information we have out there, the more people we get to hear sing, and that’s the most important thing.”
Fieri also said the account helps groups find a target audience. She said that with the number of people involved in the arts on campus, it can be hard to know who exactly to market opportunities toward.
“It’s hard to advertise, especially with COVID preventing and changing a lot of in-person events,” she said via email. “This way, people who are already passionate about the arts are connected with a resource for them to access information about auditions, and groups like Premium Blend can hone in on that specific audience.”