While both Yale and New Haven are both home to vibrant arts scenes, the two rarely intersect.
Emily Hays ’16 is trying to bridge that gap by creating a new undergraduate organization that connects University and city musicians, artists, poets and arts organizations. The group is based out of a series of events that Hays helped organize last year called “comminglings,” including an art show with both New Haven and Yale artists.
“I really want this to be a long term connection between Yale undergraduates and New Haven,” Hays said.
The idea for the organization came to Hays at the beginning of her sophomore year after she returned to Yale from a summer trip to India. The incarnation it took last year was in the form of small events that Hays organized on her own, an experience she described as “really stressful.” This year, she said she hopes to involve everyone who wants to join so that some areas in event coordination that were neglected last year, such as publicity, are well-supported. To attract members to her organization, Hays sent emails to various panlists who have worked with New Haven. So far, 10 people have expressed interest in joining the group, in addition to the handful of students who helped her with events last year.
Hays also said that part of her reasoning for starting the organization was that she felt that most Yale organizations that interact with New Haven focus on service rather than collaboration.
“I think that creates a very one-sided relationship,” Hays said. “It also creates a sense of New Haven that it doesn’t have its own resources to offer, which I completely disagree with,” she added.
One of the group’s first collaborations will be in conjunction with the New Haven Future Project, a nonprofit that works to empower teens in under-served urban areas to develop their talents. Hays said that after a number of conversations she has had with George Black, a dream director at New Haven’s Riverside Academy, the plan is to have Yale student music composers work with kids served by the Future Project to write a song together, with the ultimate goal of performing it for an audience.
A number of students who participated in last year’s commingling events expressed interest in participating in the organization this year.
Alexander Dubovoy ’16, a jazz pianist and singer heavily involved in the Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective, said he not only had a great time performing at one of the commingling events last year, but was also heartened to see the undergraduate population come together with the New Haven population.
“There’s been a lot of New Haven organizations that have really tried to foster the local culture and local arts scene, and as a result of that, there’s been some really great things going on that are very exciting,” Dubovoy said. “To let Yalies know what’s going on just outside the gates of campus is a great experience for everyone— it gets people out into the community, it gets people playing not just at Yale venues but at local venues — and so it makes both arts scenes kind of complement each other.”
Dave Harris ’16, a member of the Yale spoken word poetry group Word, said his performance at a commingling event last year was one of his favorites.
A standout moment for Harris was when, right before he stepped on the stage, he made the spur of the moment decision to invite Sarah Lemieux, a New Haven-based singer-songwriter who was also performing at the event, to accompany his poem.
The name for Hays’s organization has yet to be decided — she is currently considering Blue Haven and NHVLove.