The Cultural Affairs Committee begins another chapter in its storied history by showcasing the best in music, theatre, dance, film, the visual arts, literature, and many others for the new school year, going on with its mandate to shape culture and the arts not just for the Silliman University community but also Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental.
For 2015-2016, the theme is #cultureisPEOPLE, which invites our patrons to understand that the work of art and culture inevitably translates to endeavoring a complete uplift in cultural sensibilities for everyone -- and not just to the people that make up the Silliman community, but also the greater communities of Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental. It also pays attention, via the hashtag in the theme, to how culture can now be transmitted fast and appreciated everywhere in the world, made possible in a time of great technological marvel. It adds a certain urgency to our cultural work, and pushes this school year's slate of shows and exhibitions right on the edges of innovation.
There have been many turning points in the more than fifty-year history of the Cultural Affairs Committee in Silliman University: the group's founding in 1962 by a ragtag bunch of culture lovers led by the buxom wife of an American missionary; the building of the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium in 1974, which became the primary venue for the group's cultural shows; the institution of a cultural fee in 1989, which led to the formalization of culture as a mandatory component in every Sillimanian student's education...
It has been a history marked by countless dynamic turns, enlivened by people of passion. Because art, first and foremost, traffics in passion--It is the currency of the business, and the Cultural Affairs Committee would not have been anything without that sense of risky resolve to bring to life artistic expression.
Something of that dynamic turn came quietly in 2006, in the waning days of summer before the official start of the school year in Silliman University. Dr. Ben S. Malayang III has just been newly-installed as the eleventh President, and much of the campus was in ferment--there were feelings that things were moving along, that much of the future for Silliman University was there for the shaping.
In May of that year, Elizabeth Susan Vista-Suarez became the Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, a position she once held in 1989-2001, and she quickly assembled a membership to the committee that seemed to defy, or at least 'redefine,' the mechanisms with which things were usually done in the business of culture in the university.
The CAC had traditionally been a small group of like-minded people with membership culled from the various colleges and departments in campus, complete with token representations from the community, the alumni, and the student body. And traditionally, its chairperson was the present Director of what was then the School of Music and Fine Arts, which would soon become the College of Performing Arts in 2001, and later the College of Performing and Visual Arts in 2006.
But the CAC that began to work in 2006 was a group that had ballooned to accommodate many fresh faces, culled not just from the university's rank and file, but also from the larger Dumaguete community--and along with that came an injection of fresh ideas, many of which proved revolutionary: a more compact marketing effort, a balance in cultural programming, and a reach towards the institutionalization of a calendar marking off distinct cultural seasons, each one fully-formed before the start of any school year. It was, in other words, the CAC growing into sophistication, and in the years since then, its efforts would accumulate to elevate the group and Silliman University to a higher national profile, which would eventually lead to Dumaguete becoming a main cultural hub in the country, a mandatory stop for many of the Philippines' top cultural performers and groups. Dumaguete, of course, had always been like that--but after 2006, it became even more so.
By 2007, upon the urging of President Malayang, the CAC also began to lay the groundwork for a system of cultural work--clarifying functions, setting parameters, and defining goals--in line with the mission and the vision of Silliman University, and guided by the university's new thrusts centering around Faith, Instruction, Research, and Extension--or FIRE. The ultimate goal was to efficiently and effectively spread culture, not only to the constituents of Silliman University, but to the whole region as well, and with Faith in mind, the Committee tasked itself to pursue this goal by strengthening its foundation, by 'building bridges,' and by 'expanding territory.' It was outreach with a cultural blend, Silliman-style.
The CAC's experimentations with packaging culture since then were an exercise of gleeful risk-taking. It has proved one thing: Dumaguete can carry culture like the best of them. It has earned its reputation as being arguably the only group moving for the furtherance of art and culture on this side of Negros Island.
Welcome to a further celebration of culture.
Gala tickets available at P200, P300, and P500. Matinee tickets are available at P100 and P200. All tickets and season passes for Luce Auditorium shows are available for sale at the College of Performing and Visual Arts Building, and at the theater lobby before the show begins. For ticket reservations and other inquiries, call (035) 422-4365 or 0917-513-3312.