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How do I get involved in the University's thriving arts scene?

There are a plethora of arts societies at the University of Bristol: Arts Editor Rachel Bronnert explains how incoming freshers can get involved with them.

Image Courtesy- Milan Perera

By Rachel Bronnert, Arts editor

Moving to university can be a simultaneously daunting and exciting time. For many of us it involves moving away from home to live independently, starting a new degree, and navigating new challenges. Whether that be living in a new city, sharing halls with strangers, or desperately trying to figure out where your seminar room is on the maze that is Woodland Road. More often than not, exploring new societies and hobbies, trying to break in and ‘find our people’ can become tiresome after a while. Freshers and the university experience is incredible but also slightly exhausting for some, if not all of us. For me personally, it wasn’t until my second year that I really started to fully embrace all that Bristol University’s art scene had to offer and take the multitude of opportunities that were present to me. This isn’t necessarily the case for everyone, as some freshers get integrated right from the get-go. However, for those of us who need some help balancing university life and knowing where the opportunities are, this article will explore the rich variety of artistic societies here in Bristol and how best to get involved in them to find what is right for you.

The artistic opportunities here in Bristol are endless, from A Cappella Society, Art Society, Bops, Bristol Improv, Swing Society, Afro Lit Society, Drama Soc, Dance Society, Musical Theatre Bristol, and Aerial Pole Society. That is just to name a few. Whatever your current interests are - or even if you want to try something entirely new - there is something available. Throughout the year, as well as writing about the artistic culture in the city more widely, we will be highlighting and celebrating the work of many of these incredible societies.

Bristol University Opera Society show, Image Courtesy- Milan Perera

To begin this year, Epigram interviewed Musical Theatre Bristol’s (MTB) new president Alice Fenton, a third-year sociology student to offer a welcome and insight to students of one of Bristol University’s biggest performing arts societies.

Rachel Bronnert: ‘What would you say is the best way for freshers to get involved in MTB or one of the other art societies if they so wish?’

Alice Fenton: ‘Make sure to follow our Instagram @musictheatrebristol for all information on socials, auditions, and rehearsals. Our newbies cabaret is specifically designed for freshers and new faces. It is a great way to get into MTB without formally auditioning.’

RB: ‘What advice would you give to a student who wants to get involved but is worried about clichés?’

AF: ‘This year we are starting our family scheme even earlier to ensure that you can meet new people from the get-go. Families are a great way to make friends and we have lots of social planned for the first few weeks to particularly help freshers to get involved. If you do ever have an issue, you can always speak to a committee member, or specifically our Equalities officer.’

RB: ‘What exciting opportunities are there throughout the year in MTB?’

AF: ‘We have many performance and production opportunities planned for the year ahead. Showcase is our largest show and is at the beginning of the year and is a great space for both new and old members to get involved! There are also multiple shows which are less formal, such as the various cabarets, as well as our two main shows in term two.’

RB: ‘Finally, how was the art culture in Bristol and the university impacted you personally?’

AF: ‘Aside from performing and choreographing (a continuation of what I have always enjoyed), I have also found a passion for the production side of these shows, improving my confidence and organization in these areas. Bristol is full of talented, creative people and these spaces have allowed me to connect and share those passions with some of my closest friends.’

If this article achieves one goal, I hope it convinces you to get involved in a society this year, whether you are a fresher or a final year student. As Alice has described, there are multitudes of opportunities in performing and production. As an Arts team, we look forward to exploring this under the spotlight of more societies as the year progresses. Check the Students’ Union website for details of Give it a Go sessions if you fancy exploring any society this freshers’ week.

Gypsy, A Musical Fable, performed by MTB, Image Courtesy Milan Perera

If you yourself want to get involved in writing or journalism, then you can! We would love to welcome any new writers and fresh perspectives. To stay up to date, follow the Instagram @epigrampaper_ or to receive the specific commissions, then join the arts Facebook page Epigram Arts Writers 2023-24.

Good luck to all our readers for the new academic year. As a team, we can’t wait to see new people involved and all the art which the societies and wider city have to offer this year!

Featured Image: Milan Perera

How are you going to get involved this academic year?