Arts Annex residents clockwise from top: Cole Richards ’23, Curtis Amory ’23, Niamh Creedon-Carey ’21, Chloe McConnell ’21, Ned Hallahan ’21, Lauren Sharp ’22, Kalya Edmunds ’21, and Sophia Sanchez ’23.

Creamsicles and Community

SLU PAC continues its mission to host musical events on campus

Lauren Sharp ’22

The parking lot smelled of orange Creamsicles and early autumn. Friends chattered enthusiastically, greeting one another for the first time in the fall 2020 semester. The music of Rex Orange County played in the background. In the face of restricted gatherings and public health safety protocols, student members of the St. Lawrence University Performing Arts Collective (SLU PAC) still managed to find new ways to continue their mission of building community on campus through arts events.

Entitled “Rex Orange Creamsicle County,” this particular listening party combined music and frozen treats in the parking lot of the Arts Annex theme house, allowing students to congregate but still adhere to the St. Lawrence’s social-distancing requirements. SLU PAC President Madeline Sheen ’21 explains that this series of gatherings in the parking lot became known as “Lotify,” playing off the popular music-streaming platform Spotify that was used to stream the musical performance. Attendees gathered within “family units,” enjoying their pre-packaged Creamsicles while listening to “Apricot Princess” and other selections from the artist. 

“I think we all needed to be able to come together and interact,” says Sheen. “There’s just so much happening in the world right now that community is really important.” 

With the goal of building community through music while trying to safely jump the hurdles of public health safety, Sheen and other members of SLU PAC worked creatively to host events each Friday, everything from the outdoor “Lotifies” to open jam sessions. Early in the semester, students would bring acoustic instruments and enjoy the company of friends on a warm September days. As the temperature dropped, hosting events safely became trickier.

Making the necessary adjustments to allow for social distancing and sanitization has been difficult, explains Sheen. “The Annex is a big space, but indoor events are not really feasible with COVID,” she says. “Not really being able to use the space is one of the big things that we’re trying to figure out.” Sheen remains optimistic that, regardless of the changes the club might have to make, SLU PAC members could still fulfill their mission of community building at St. Lawrence through music.

“We really want to host some kind of open mic and figure out a way to make it totally COVID-safe so everyone can use all the different microphones and things we have available,” says SLU PAC Social Chair Jordi Kulis ’22, adding that there would be other opportunities besides open jams and listening parties to get students involved. In a normal year, any student would be able to visit the Arts Annex and check out musical instruments and technology for temporary use. Part of the SLU PAC service is to provide the equipment for all members of the campus community for free and regardless of performance experience, an initiative which has been further complicated by the pandemic. 

“I’m hoping that we’re going to find a way to use funding this year to grow the amount of technology that we have and the things that we have available for people,” says Kulis. SLU PAC officials figured that if students were unable to use the equipment during the fall semester, this use of club funds would still ensure that students had better access to performance technology in future semesters and their programming could eventually grow with the investment. Regardless of what the future holds, Kulis affirms that SLU PAC members “will fight to make sure that we can continue to host things that are of interest to everyone.”

“You can still come and just enjoy and support your student artists on campus,” says Sheen, who would like to stress that SLU PAC events are open to all members of the St. Lawrence community. “It’s always fun to be an audience member or a performer. I was really intimidated by performing at first, but watching the large variety of people that would come and perform for the broader campus was really inspiring.”