Over the past year, students, faculty and staff from Samford University School of the Arts and Miles College have worked together to develop a cultural partnership, the MISA Collaborative, that is intended to strengthen and expand the relationship between the two institutions and bring together the respective members of the two campuses. It is also meant to foster culturally significant arts and humanities opportunities that benefit the stakeholders at both institutions.
The Collaborative will become official on Saturday, Oct. 30 at a formal signing prior to the performance of Crumbs from the Table of Joy which is the first collaboration under the MISA name. Samford’s President Beck A. Taylor and Miles’ President Bobbie Knight will be in attendance.
Crumbs from the Table of Joy is directed by Miles College instructor Chalethia Williams, and cast and crew members include both Miles alumni and Samford students. The production is part of the Michael J. and Mary Anne Freeman Theatre and Dance Series at Samford as well as a Diversity Series event. Tickets are available at tickets.samford.edu.
“Two years ago, a group of Samford students came together to advocate for increasing diversity in our presentations across the School of the Arts. With the support and encouragement of administration they created a Diversity Series, featuring contributions from all arts areas. Crumbs from the Table of Joy, by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, and featuring collaboration with Miles College, is the first product of that work on our mainstage theatre season,” said Mark Castle, chair of Samford’s Department of Theatre and Dance.
“Our collaboration has been inspired by the work of students at Miles and Samford to integrate a concert of the Birmingham Symphony in 1965. We hope to create work that tells the story of these and other heroes of justice. Perhaps we can sew a new work of justice along the way, and we are finding that we can build friendships that deepen and transcend,” said Joe Hopkins, dean of Samford’s School of the Arts.
The MISA Collaborative plans to support creative projects that allow the Miles College and Samford University communities to interact with artists of various genres, engage together in arts and cultural exhibits, participate in arts related workshops, and present works that help tell the story of diversity contributions in our community.
Another key element will be to integrate service learning between the constituents of Miles College and Samford University, and the Birmingham/Fairfield communities at large.
“Higher education institutions must not remain insulated from communities. Students who are immersed in their own racial or ethnic culture need variety in their lives. They need to learn of the rich cultures each group possesses and that which the groups have in common,” said Dr. Bala Baptiste, professor of mass communication and chair of communications at Miles College.
Samford and Miles have been awarded community grants from the Alabama Power and Daniel Foundations for the MISA Collaborative’s current and forthcoming work in the community.