Let USF Entertain You

TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 2, 2009) – Concert and theater ticket prices have risen to heights that discourage buying even one, let alone additional ones for dates, mates and children, but theater-goers, music lovers, art buffs and the intellectually curious need not despair.


That age-old conversation, “What do you want to do tonight?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” can be changed forever by checking the University of South Florida’s calendar of events – without the threat of making a serious dent in one’s bank account. 


The USF College of The Arts offers over 400 performances, lectures and exhibitions a year and many are free or rarely go above $10 to $12 for general admission, $8 for students. And that’s only one college at USF. Just about every school, department, institute and program presents free lectures covering myriad topics of interest. Budget-minded students have taken notice. 


“… if you exclude just one trip to any fast food restaurant once a week it would allow you to go to an arts event at USF,” said Rachel Kaylor, a sophomore majoring in journalism. “Even if you’re not an arts student, the arts enhance your education and your life.  They’re so important.”


When it comes to the theater, plays run the gamut, from musicals to serious dramas and comedies, classics and experimental fare. About the most recent production, 100 Saints You Should Know, Creative Loafing admired the “…wonderful acting” and noted, “Director (Kerry) Glamsch is one of the most skillful and innovative artists in the Bay area, …he creates a constantly interesting pageant.”


If dance is your preference, ballet and modern are available.  Marty Clear, writing in the St. Petersburg Times about the 2007 Fall Dance Concert, provides a professional critic’s perspective that still holds true:   


“For the casual dance fan, the most impressive elements of the University of South Florida's Fall Dance Concert are the inventive choreography and the breadth of styles that all somehow work together.   …For people who closely follow bay area dance, there's an added reward: the students' consistent excellence.”


More recently, the dance program has also turned Creative Loafing writer Sally Bosco into a fan:


“The USF Fall Dance Concert lives up to its billing as a “vibrant mélange of ballet, modern, swing and flamenco-fusion.  … I was very pleasantly surprised at the exceptional quality of dance, choreography, music and costuming.  The execution of the dances demonstrated a high degree of quality and professionalism, particularly in the pointe work.  This show makes it very obvious that USF School of Theater and Dance has attracted some esteemed faculty and visiting choreographers with impressive credentials.”


Music is equally impressive at USF.  Jazz and contemporary music are in abundance. Ensembles in both genres perform all around the state. Well-known musicians perform with top students during the Monday Night Jazz Series and The Jazz Surge led by USF faculty member Chuck Owen has released several CDs and performs at various venues throughout the year. 


The upcoming Steinway Piano Series, from January through April, the Robert Helps Prize festival in February, and the recent student composers concert are among the School of Music’s most celebrated annual music events. The Bel Canto Women’s Chorus, the USF men’s choir, known as The Singing Stampede, and the top choral ensemble, the Chamber Singers, perform a free concert featuring a wide variety of choral and holiday songs Dec. 2 at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church in Tampa. 


Art exhibits offer still more destinations for cost-saving leisure activities. USF’s Contemporary Art Museum has regularly changing free exhibitions that spotlight up-to-the-minute cultural trends and the Graphicstudio’s ongoing and annual art sales put signed and unsigned works by distinguished artists within reach of even the most frugal art collector. The School of Architecture + Community Design displays students’ visionary designs and presents lectures by world-renowned architects. Likewise, the School of Art and Art History’s artists and scholars regularly exhibit and host talks from well-known historians and artists – local and from across the nation and the world.


Jennie Jolly Gonzalez, a graduate student in the Entrepreneurship for Applied Technology masters program has made USF’s rich and varied offerings a part of her education and her life. 


“USF students have a wonderful resource in the College of The Arts. Taking a step back from the problems at hand to enjoy the arts is an excellent way to inspire achievement,” she said. “I encourage my classmates to go to concerts, plays, recitals, and art exhibits on campus because it is important to support artistic development and just might result in a new viewpoint that will enrich their own USF experience.” 


Along with all the art, the acting, singing and dancing, all kinds of sports are available, too, from football and basketball of course, to soccer, volleyball, baseball, tennis and golf. But for those whose interests lean towards history, politics, science, contemporary culture and literature, the humanities at USF offer a rich and varied menu – material for lively conversations and unforgettable memories. That menu has featured some of the world’s best-selling and internationally-renowned authors, the world’s leading architects, Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize recipients, political and environmental activists, film and television personalities – something for every interest and taste. 


The University Lecture Series in particular is a celebrity who’s who with names ranging from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Bill Nye the Science Guy, filmmakers Michael Moore, Spike Lee and Mira Nair, Sopranos star Jamie-Lynn Sigler, and author Maya Angelou – just to name a few.  In November, Project Runway’s Tim Gunn delighted fashionistas. Brett Ratner (Feb. 4), one of the top grossing movie director in history, Frank Warren (Feb. 23), creator of the Post Secret Project, and Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson (Mar. 23) are heading up next year’s list, now in formation. 


Speakers of a more scholarly bent, including distinguished USF and visiting professors, can be found throughout the year at the USF Tampa Libraries (with its own special collections worth visiting) and other campus venues. The College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, the Institute on Black Life and the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean specialize in topics related to their areas of interest – often with a community focus. The colleges of Arts & Sciences, Business, and Engineering cover a diverse range of fascinating subjects as well all year long.  The Humanities Institute works with all of the above to co-sponsor as well as sponsor on its own the appearances of distinguished scholars, authors and experts on a wide range of issues.


Being entertained by and supporting artistically talented students, or hearing the nation’s leading scholars talk about important and fascinating subjects – often with an opportunity to ask questions, no less – constitutes one of the best deals in town. And these events offer original and easy solutions to last-minute gift needs or a date that will make a lasting impression. Best of all, you don’t have to be a student or an alumnus to attend. Regular attendees find themselves right at home on USF’s campus – whether or not they’re taking courses. 


To find out what’s going on in the College of The Arts, it’s as easy as subscribing at http://www.arts.usf.edu/subscribe.htm, making regular visits to the USF Calendar pages from the USF home page at www.usf.edu and checking the University Lecture Series site at http://ctr.usf.edu/uls/. One or all will very likely leave you wondering how to find the time to participate in even a fraction of what’s available. But that’s a good problem to have – whatever your budget.



The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.


– USF –