Quinnipiac sophomore creates new student arts organization on campus
Formerly drum major of the Lyman Hall High School marching band, sophomore Sean Formantes has always had a passion for the arts.
As the new academic year approaches, the Graphic and Interactive Design major announced via LinkedIn on August 8 the official recognition of the Quinnipiac University Student Artists League as a student internship organization.
“It was this mix of artistic and creative thinking, and also just a passion for business and entrepreneurship,” Formantes said. “Those are the things that stuck with me after high school.”
Upon arriving at Quinnipiac, Formantes ran for the Student Government Association as a freshman senator and was elected. Throughout his tenure, the arts remained central to his concerns. He had several conversations with Quinnipiac’s music director, Dr. Sprengelmeyer, and worked on an initiative to clean up the music building on Sherman Ave.
“It was something that really stuck with me, I always wanted to do something arts-related on campus,” Formantes said.
Formantes is currently involved with The Quinnipiac Legends A Capella Group as Social Media Manager, The Quinnipiac Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts as Vice President and Treasurer, and The Chronicle as Designer. During his college search, one of the most important things he looked for was to find a school with an artistic background. It was important for Formantes that there was a space to express themselves in a unique way.
“Art is a means of expression,” Formantes said. “It’s a means of communication. It’s a way of sometimes tapping into the unconscious. And I think that’s so important because it’s personal and philosophical, it helps us to think about our own perspectives and also to ask those tough questions.
But Formantes said he observed early in his research that Quinnipiac was not marketing itself as an arts school.
“Which is interesting, because we are an outstanding liberal arts university,” Formantes said.
Formantes has researched the topic extensively, citing old Chronicle articles that discuss the arts in campus culture. He also had his own personal experience of lack of support.
“(In The Legends) we were going to compete in person at this competition in Hartford, Connecticut, but it was canceled due to COVID,” Formantes said. “We were supposed to do a virtual recording with mics, professional standards, on a stage… But something we realized was, well, we can’t really do that here. We don’t have the facilities or the resources to do that on our campus.
Hoping to find a solution, Formantes came up with the idea of creating SAL.
“It was right in the back of my head,” Formantes said. “It wasn’t fully thought out, but I just thought it would be great if we had a community for visual and performing arts students to come together, and just create and collaborate on projects and so on.”
Formantes first pitched the concept to SGA’s freshman cabinet in March and received positive feedback. From there, he worked with Associate Director of Student Engagement Hannah Cranston to get the organization off the ground.
In such a short time, he had a lot of success.
“We actually had a little meeting before the end of May where we had, I mean about 15 people that came,” Formantes said. “There were a lot of people active in our theater program who showed up, and then some of my friends as well as members of SGA.”
Formantes approached assistant theater professor Abigail Copeland in the spring semester to be SAL’s academic advisor. Copeland said she hopes SAL will spark more creative thinking and collaboration on campus, while helping students heal.
“The need to form community, especially in the wake of something like a global pandemic, is central to what it means to be human,” Copeland said. “Being able to come together with others and create new and exciting work after experiencing such collective trauma is just one way to heal our communities and ourselves.”
Formantes’ hard work and dedication has culminated in SAL’s first official meeting as a recognized organization, which will take place on September 12th. Although the idea was originally conceived and pitched to SGA, SAL is not affiliated with the organization.
“I always saw it as a coalition, but not necessarily a council or a governing body,” Formantes said. “I see it as an organization that hopes to partner with other arts organizations. I want it to be like a resource.
Formantes said he also wants to prioritize recruitment and retention because student groups mostly return to in-person events and meetings.
“I think we have to look at something: are the students interested?” Formantes said. “Is this something they want to be a part of? I hope our social media will focus on content creation. I want to be able to show that SAL is an interesting organization because we start, we build trust.
Formantes is a staff designer for The Chronicle.