With the goal of increasing the ease and frequency of collaborations with their peers, students at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance have created a new website that they describe as a "Craig's List for gigs," titled CollabConnect,
The site, under development for a year, was created by seniors Gabrielle Lewis (music theory) and Zac Lavender (composition). Both are members of the Collaborative Student Assembly (CSA), the student governing body of SMTD, housed in the office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The project is the first step in answering the call of the CSA mission statement which is to foster creative interdisciplinary collaboration between SMTD students.
"As the CSA's vice president of students, I very much wanted to provide our students with a resource that will make their undergraduate experience even more meaningful and productive," said Lewis.
Emblematic of the strong entrepreneurial spirit that is both encouraged and regularly demonstrated at SMTD, the site evolved in response to student demand for a fast, reliable, and convenient way to identify fellow students to form music ensembles and a vast spectrum of inter-disciplinary collaborations involving, music, dance, theatre, performing arts technology, and more.
CollabConnect provides a simple, easy-to-use interface that lists dozens of categories in the performing arts--from violinist, composer, and singer to costume designer, sound technician, and publicist. Students seeking collaborators, for projects or potential gigs, simply check off the types of artists, technicians, or administrative partners they seek. With the criteria in place, they create an "ad" that is entered into the database and searchable by category.
The site is only accessible to SMTD students, faculty, and staff at this time. However, there are plans to develop it for cross-unit collaboration in the near future, to support the second part of the CSA mission, which is to promote creativity and collaboration among the broader university community. Eventually the CSA hopes to also create a public portal connecting SMTD performers to paid gigs.
Lewis and Lavender developed the features and design of the website with SMTD's information technologists and were guided by Melody Racine, professor of voice and associate dean of academic affairs.
"I am thrilled that I can go online and see the website categories Zac and I first penned in October 2013," said Lewis. "It is my hope that SMTD students will breathe their creative energy into this website and reap the benefits it is sure to present for years to come."