If you’re anything like me, you came to Binghamton University excited for your classes, the clubs you might join and, most importantly, the events where a Bearcat could kick back and maybe watch a good play or see a concert. Well, maybe the last part isn’t so high on your list of priorities, but as a freshman, it was on mine. Either way, if you’re feeling a bit lost, here’s a crash course on some of the events you can go to in the Binghamton area to get your artistic fix.
Though the nearest major concert venue is in Ithaca at the State Theatre, throughout the year, the city of Binghamton hosts a number of public music events. The soonest one is the third annual Porchfest, a series of concerts that will occur on Aug. 27 on the city’s West Side. The performers are a mix of Binghamton area residents and students, as the neighborhood is home to a large student population. This year, in addition to the variety of musical acts, a 10K race will also be held, beginning at 8:40 a.m. and following a route that passes by participating porches. Two weeks later, on Sept. 10, the area around the South Washington Street and Memorial bridges in Downtown Binghamton will turn into a festival venue for Blues on the Bridge, an all-day event that will feature 18 blues bands and even more vendors.
For students who are more inclined toward performing, it’s easy to find an open mic event on campus — many clubs, like Alpha Delta Phi Society, and living communities hold semi-regular shows. You can also showcase your talent at Open, an art collective that functions as both an open mic and a gallery viewing, which is usually held every three weeks during the semester in Appalachian Collegiate Center and is advertised on Facebook. If you’re trying to play to a broader audience, you can audition your group to perform at WHRW 90.5 FM’s Moefest, a festival in the spring that allows a number of students to perform during the day before a main-event headliner. In a similar vein, a battle of the bands competition held in the spring semester will audition student bands for the coveted position of student opener for BU’s biggest festival, Spring Fling.
If you’re interested in seeing more plays outside of the theatre department’s Mainstage productions, an easy place to find other productions on campus are with the two smaller, student-run theatre groups, the Hinman Production Company (HPC) and the Dickinson Community Players (DCP). Each group produces four full-length shows per academic year, along with smaller events: HPC puts on a semesterly 24-hour production, in which a short play is written and produced within the period of a day, and DCP hosts cabaret shows. The theatre department at BU also produces studio plays, which are smaller shows that are often supervised by a faculty member but directed by a student.
Professional shows come through the area as well. Throughout the year, for limited engagements, the Broome County Forum Theatre is home to traveling Broadway shows. The upcoming season for 2017-18 includes “Kinky Boots,” “A Chorus Line” and “Jersey Boys,” among others. The same theater hosts the Tri-Cities Opera, whose present season includes “La Boheme” and “The Tragedy of Carmen.” Plenty of community theatres exist in the area as well — the Cider Mill Playhouse and Goodwill Theatre are nearby, and it’s not uncommon that the companies’ shows are directed by a university faculty member.
First Fridays are a good place to start if you’re interested in what the area has to offer for the visual arts — a number of galleries Downtown will open for the first Friday of each month, and on occasion, the featured artists are students and faculty members. The on-campus Art Museum is worth visiting, too — the permanent collection ranges from Renaissance to contemporary art, and it has three new exhibitions each academic year. The most recent show featured large-scale graphics by Milton Glaser, a designer famous for having created the “I heart NY” logo. The Art Museum also sponsors the Drawing Marathon, a 24-hour competition judged by faculty members, which occurs every March.
It’s worth noting that quite a few of these activities are student-run — if you want to find a way to express yourself through something that isn’t already available to you, you have the power, as a student here, to see your idea to life.