A group of students is taking their parents insistence to clean their plates before leaving the dinner table one step further. The student-led UMass Amherst Food Recovery Network takes leftover, un-eaten food from the campus dining halls to an Amherst homeless shelter. Connecting Point Producer Dave Fraser visited campus to see how this partnership works, and what inspired the students to get involved.
Divided: Scenes from Inauguration 2021
JANUARY 19, 2021
A Photo and Interview Series by Barry Goldstein
In America, the inauguration of a Commander In Chief is traditionally a time of celebration. Politicians, special guests, and everyday Americans converge on the National Mall in front of the U.S. Capitol building to mark the swearing in of the next President of the United States. Full of pomp and circumstance, inaugurations are an important democratic ritual and a symbol of the peaceful transfer of power.
UMass Fine Arts Center 2022 Season Preview (Digital Exclusive)
January 20, 2022
UMass Fine Arts Center Director Jamilla Deria gives host Zydalis Bauer a sneak peek at some of the shows you’ll find at the FAC this spring. Watch our full interview with Jamilla Deria.Read the full transcription:Zydalis Bauer, Co
UMass Fine Arts Center Director Jamilla Deria gives host Zydalis Bauer a sneak peek at some of the shows you’ll find at the FAC this spring.
Watch our full interview with Jamilla Deria.
Read the full transcription:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: At the start of the new year and the shift now into the 2022 portion of the season, what does the rest of the programing look like?
Jamilla Deria, UMass Fine Arts Center: At the Fine Arts Center, we like to say that we bring the world through the arts to UMass and the Pioneer Valley. And I think that you'll find that we are living up to that aim in the spring season. And I'll just give you a couple of highlights.
We open up our spring season with this amazing five person acapella group called Nobuntu from Zimbabwe. They're singing Ndebele songs, which originally was an art form that was meant for men only, and they've re-imagined it with issues that are pertinent to the women of Zimbabwe. And also, they're really focused on using music to bridge gaps across social, economic, and political fault lines.
We then move over to Quebec and we're presenting Cirque Flip Fabrique - Six, Cirque is a contemporary circus ensemble. The founder really believes in the power of play, and while it's a fantastic family show, it's really meant for all audiences to come, leave your troubles at the door and enjoy the comedy, enjoy the amazing acrobatics, and all of the wonderful circus performance that they bring.
We then head up to Ireland for Danu, which is there the leading Irish ensemble group of around -- and we're going to be presenting them around St. Patrick's Day. And we're so thrilled, it's really gorgeous music. What they say is that their musical journey through the country of Ireland.
We then head over to Small Island Big Song, which is a fantastic new project. It is artists from 16 island nations joining forces, making music, using their local instruments and traditional sounds to really call to attention the issues of climate change.
As we know, that island nations are at the forefront of this pressing global issue and that if if we don't do something quickly, that the cultures of songs that that you'll hear on the stage will, you know, disappear in maybe the next, you know, next few centuries. And so, I think that not only is the mission of the show so important and so timely, but the music is so powerful and amazing. So, I invite your audiences to come out for that.
And then we round out the the season with Alvin Ailey. They come to us with their amazing repertoire, including Revelations.
It's going to be a fantastic season, and what I've talked about is only a spoonful of all of the amazing performances and exhibitions that were offering this spring.
Avery Maltz on the HCC Greenhouse (Digital Exclusive)
January 20, 2022
Avery Maltz shares some fun facts about the Holyoke Community College greenhouse and what they enjoy the most about being its caretaker with Zydalis Bauer. Watch our full interview with Avery Maltz.Read the full transcription:Ave
Avery Maltz shares some fun facts about the Holyoke Community College greenhouse and what they enjoy the most about being its caretaker with Zydalis Bauer.
Watch our full interview with Avery Maltz.
Read the full transcription:
Avery Maltz, Point Foundation Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient: We have about anywhere from two hundred and fifty to three hundred plants. It can vary, you know, depending on depending on the season. And within that, about one hundred and thirty species.
It's a very diverse little place. It's small, but we pack a lot in there. I've kind of divided things into different regions, little mini ecosystems. So they're kind of all clumped with their friends, and it's just a beautiful place.
You walk in and you just, like, immediately smell the fresh air. And yeah, it's really nice.
Zydalis Bauer: And you even have had some fruits come from these plants, correct?
Avery Maltz, Point Foundation Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient: Yeah, we've had limes. We have a banana tree. It still hasn't flowered.
The most exciting fruits, I think, have been...the monstera produced a fruit, which I had never seen before. So I got to take that.
Zydalis Bauer: Yeah, to be honest, I didn't even know monstera produced a fruit, so that's pretty cool.
Avery Maltz, Point Foundation Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient: They do. It has to be really mature to produce a fruit, and most of the ones that people have in their homes, like they just don't have the resources in a house to actually be able to to produce a fruit like that.
Zydalis Bauer: So as I mentioned us being home with the pandemic, can you talk to me about some of the therapeutic value that being inside the greenhouse offered you, especially during the times that we're going through?
Avery Maltz, Point Foundation Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient: It was really, really nice to be able to go in and take care of the plants during that time. And it was very eerie because the whole school was empty and all the posters were still up from like the week before everything went remote. And, you know, I would just go in and and take care of the plants, and it felt like a really powerful way to stay connected.
During that time, I started an Instagram account for the greenhouse so that I could share with the campus community the different things that were happening in the greenhouse, things that were flowering, or little updates on the plants. And it was just a really nice way to kind of bring people in to that experience.
Zydalis Bauer: And now that we are deep in the winter months, it's cold, it's dreary outside.
Do you have any tips for us about houseplants and what should we be looking out for? What are the what are the perfect plants to have during this time of year?
Avery Maltz, Point Foundation Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient: The perfect plants to have it depends on your house and your situation, but a few winter tips: please move your plants away from the heaters. Oftentimes, you'll have like a baseboard heater or something like right below a window, but you really want to make sure your plants are not right next to that heater because it's going to dry out the plant.
And also, I don't fertilize in the winter, even if it still looks good and feels like it's growing -- like the plants behind me look good, right? But most plants are a little bit dormant in the winter months because they're not getting that same amount of, like, light and warmth that they would need. So yeah, they don't need fertilizer in the winter.
Zydalis Bauer: Where did your passion come for caring for plants? How did you even end up in the role as caretaker of the HCC greenhouse?
Avery Maltz, Point Foundation Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient: Honestly, I don't know where it comes from! I just love plants. But my first semester, I -- I would walk past the greenhouse on my way to class and I would look in the window and I just I just felt like I wanted to be in there, you know?
And so I reached out to one of the biology professors and I asked her if there were any opportunities to get involved. And yeah, the rest is history.
UMass Fine Arts Center Continues Season in Face of COVID Surge
January 20, 2022
Last year, the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center kicked off their Fall season with a variety of performances and programming including the reopening of the University’s art galleries after being closed due to the pandemic. Zydalis B
Last year, the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center kicked off their Fall season with a variety of performances and programming including the reopening of the University’s art galleries after being closed due to the pandemic.
Zydalis Bauer speaks with Jamilla Deria, Director of the Fine Arts Center, to learn how the local arts scene is prevailing during the pandemic as well as to hear about the rest of the season’s upcoming events at the FAC.
Explore some of the show coming to the FAC this spring in a digital exclusive clip.
Read the full transcription:
Tony Dunne, Connecting Point: Last year, the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center kicked off their fall season with a variety of performances and programing, including the reopening of the university's art galleries after being closed due to COVID-19.
Zydalis Bauer spoke with Jamilla Deria, Director of the Fine Arts Center, to find out how the local art scene is prevailing during the pandemic and learn about the rest of the season.
Jamilla Deria, UMass Fine Arts Center: We're so happy to be able to let everyone know that we're open, that we are welcoming audiences back.
And you know, the campus, as well as the Fine Arts Center, has safety at the top of our agenda and we are making -- we've just completed some extensive planning to ensure that everyone can come to our campus, be safe and enjoy events.
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: So, Jamilla, you started at the UMass Fine Arts Center in 2019 and just one year after you began boom, the pandemic hits.
So how were you able to navigate that and what have been some of the challenges that have come with that?
Jamilla Deria: It was certainly a baptism by fire! I don't think anyone saw it coming, and certainly no one was really prepared for a global pandemic. Certainly, not in my very first year here at the Fine Arts Center.
But I will say that I was so fortunate -- and I am still so fortunate -- to have an amazing team who is resilient, resourceful, and just can pivot on a dime. We got the official notice that our buildings were closed on March 16th of 2020, and by April 4th, we were back up and operating virtually.
From April 4th, 2020, up through this -- this academic year, we've put on seventy five virtual shows.
So obviously, you know, it was a lot of figuring out as we were going, but I think that this team has become so adept at not only in-person presentations, which we all love to do, which is why we got into this business, but now we are wonderful producers of virtual programs, and now we're also going outdoor and having more outdoor events and public art events, and you're going to see that in our in the warmer months of the semester and next.
Zydalis Bauer: Speaking of the 75 virtual events that you all put on, like many of us, this was a new avenue for you to explore during the pandemic.
What were some of the successes that came out of those virtual events? And do you think it's something that will continue on beyond the pandemic?
Jamilla Deria: Well, I think that the great thing about virtual events is that they're actually a bit more affordable, which means that we have more money to invest in the artists and the development of new work. So for the first time in a very long time, we were able to really partner with artists and present a number of world premieres.
We also expanded how we present arts education programs. So for example, we partnered with the Jazz at Lincoln Center and Wynton Marsalis. The weeks leading up to the election, we invited them to teach a six part course on jazz as a tool of liberation, because there's something really kind of fantastic -- whether you're a jazz lover or not, there's something really fantastic about how jazz is created in real time.
I mean, a lot of jazz is improvization and it's improvization at a masterful level. So, you know, the players are not only so in-tune with the -- their own instrument and the sound that they're developing, but they're also in real time listening and co-creating with their ensemble mates.
And so the democratization of jazz and in that anyone can kind of have a moment to have their voice articulated, I think that that theme was something that we wanted to explore through this course, and as well as jazz has been activism music since its very beginning. And so it's not only speaking voice to the people, but it also -- in it's form, you know, expressing how democracy works.
And I think that that was an exciting new model for us, in terms of not only presenting exciting works, but really bringing you into these -- these masters workshops to really kind of hear their perspectives, hear their voices, look at how they approach the development of new work.
I was also excited about the Fine Arts Center was a part of a team of presenters across the nation to present and premiere a new opera by a composer named Daniel Bernard Roumain. It was to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre.
And we were able to really give voice and space to this -- this wonderful composer to get his work out there. And we had a national conversation about sort of the state of race relations in America, and what we what we hope for and what we want to see in the years ahead.
Zydalis Bauer: Your emphasis has been re-engaging the live audience, getting people comfortable to be back in person.
What has the response been so far from the audience, as well as the local art scene?
Jamilla Deria: Everyone is, you know, really excited to gather again. Obviously, the Omicron and its emergence really slowed some momentum.
But before our holiday break, we saw -- we sold about 700 tickets to a wonderful family performance, and it was the energy in the room can't be replaced on the screen. And while I definitely love our virtual offerings, I think it gives you access and brings people from all over the world together and really special ways....you know, that collective "ahh," that collective breath that we take as as an artist reaches the pinnacle of their performance, that you know, you can't --you can't replace that.
And so for those who've come back -- and we've had quite a few come back -- I think they're just so thrilled to be together again.
Zydalis Bauer: Now, the saying is always "the show must go on." We hear that all the time.
Why is that exceptionally important during these challenging times that we're going through?
Jamilla Deria: You know what? Art not only helps us learn better, but it also helps us live better. I mean, we are -- we are meant to be together experiencing, you know, the highest expression of human creativity, ingenuity, wonder.
And I think that...I think that there's -- I think now more than ever, as we as a society kind of socially isolate, as we deal with such serious issues as a global pandemic, the reckoning of sort of race relations in the country, growing economic inequality, more than ever do we need to come together through the arts to help really create bridges -- because we've lost a lot of bridges in the last few years as we've polarized.
And I don't think of any better form than sort of a rich art experience to remind people that we are not, you know, digital enemies. We are neighbors. We are, we are community, we are friends, and -- and the arts are here for all of us.
Zydalis Bauer: Jamilla, as you know, artists, performers, and even venues like the UMass Fine Arts Center have all had to be creative and rethink how artistry is presented.
What are some of the prevailing trends that you are witnessing in response to local and national ordinances and put in place during the pandemic?
Jamilla Deria: Thank you for that question.
You know, I touched on the need for all arts organizations to become more versatile -- to not only be in-person presenters, but virtual presenters, and then also outdoor presenters. I think another sort of challenge that I think COVID really brought to the fore for all of us -- and we've been talking about this for decades now -- but I think Covid really brought us to sort of a reckoning point, is that we need to open our doors to more audiences.
We we certainly love the audiences that come now, those who have been with us from the very beginning. We're forty six-years-old as an organization. Some -- some of our -- some of the folks who came to our very first performance in October of 1975 are still around today, and they come back and we love them.
But, we also know that there are groups of people that we don't yet serve. And I think that for the future of the arts, not only in terms of the Fine Arts Center, but nationally, we need to be able to not only reflect a full range of cultures and communities on our stages, but we have to turn the camera and look at the audience to see if we are reflecting that in the house. And if we're not, then there's so much work that needs to be done, because our communities are here.
This is a very diverse area. But then if you go into some of our theaters, you don't -- it doesn't reflect that diversity. And we understand that our great lesson coming out of COVID is that that is no longer an issue that can be sidelined, that it needs to be our central work, that the Fine Arts Center and our building has been renamed after our very first African-American chancellor, Dr. Bromery, so the Bromery Center for the Arts.
We're here not only to present diverse arts, but for diverse audiences.
HCC Student Avery Maltz Receives Wells Fargo Scholarship
January 20, 2022
Holyoke Community College student Avery Maltz struggled as a teen with an undiagnosed learning disability and homophobic bullying in school. After taking several years off after graduating high school, Maltz found both a welcoming
Holyoke Community College student Avery Maltz struggled as a teen with an undiagnosed learning disability and homophobic bullying in school. After taking several years off after graduating high school, Maltz found both a welcoming community and academic success at Holyoke Community College.
Maltz was recently awarded the Wells Fargo Scholarship from the Point Foundation, the nation’s largest merit scholarship program for LGBTQ students.
Zydalis Bauer spoke with Maltz to hear how the scholarship will help them further their passion of building community, amplifying marginalized voices, and using natural sciences to create a more accessible world.
Hear Maltz talk about working in the HCC Greenhouse in a digital exclusive feature.
Read the full transcription:
Tony Dunne, Connecting Point: Avery Maltz struggled as a teen, dealing with an undiagnosed learning disability and enduring homophobic bullying in school.
After graduating high school, Maltz took several years off before finding a welcoming community and academic success at Holyoke Community College and has recently been awarded the Wells Fargo Scholarship from the Point Foundation, which is the nation's largest merit scholarship program for LGBTQ students.
Zydalis Bauer spoke with Maltz to hear how the scholarship will help them further their passion of building community, amplifying marginalized voices, and using natural sciences towards creating a more accessible world for all.
Avery Maltz, Point Foundation Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient: My family moved up here when I was 13. We were looking for a more accepting place to be. We had been on Long Island for a couple of years -- before that Manhattan, which was really nice.
But I ended up staying after high school because I really liked the community and it was an easy place to live.
Zydalis Bauer: And I know that after high school you didn't pursue higher education right away. You were dealing with an undiagnosed learning disability. And unfortunately, you also dealt with some homophobic bullying in your past school.
So after taking so much time off of school after graduation, you decided to pursue school at Holyoke Community College. What was the driving factor behind that decision?
Avery Maltz: It was really about getting diagnosed with ADHD. And I did try to go to college straight out of high school and it didn't work out. I didn't have the support that I needed. I didn't know how to advocate for myself. I didn't understand the way that the education system worked.
Yeah, I worked retail for about a decade and you know, I got pretty burnt out on that and I just -- I was unsatisfied. And even when I liked my job, you know, it wasn't deeply satisfying to me and I really wanted more. And so I just I knew that I needed help in this way, and so I decided to pursue testing.
And when I got my diagnosis, I -- I decided to to try again with school and see what would happen.
Zydalis Bauer: I mean, and it really did pay off because you -- congratulations -- have been awarded with the Wells Fargo Scholarship from the Point Foundation, which is the nation's largest merit scholarship for LGBTQ students.
How did it feel to receive this honor and how will this scholarship help you succeed with your goals?
Avery Maltz: It felt amazing! You know, first of all, just -- yeah, receiving that scholarship was incredible. I mean, I just I thought about who I was in middle school and how difficult it had been to be bullied for being queer and all the struggles I went through after that. And it just felt like. Everything had come full circle.
And yeah, it's been an amazing opportunity. The scholarship has been super helpful, but also the programing that Point offers is really amazing. I've been able to do, like, one-on-one coaching. They have a lot of training in the transfer process, because I am working on transferring to a four year school right now.
And so, yeah, they -- they just have someone for every part of the process to offer support.
Zydalis Bauer: I wanted to bring that up too, because I know that beyond the monetary value of this scholarship, this is a year-long program and it will provide you with workshops, support, and ultimately you will be a part of the Point Foundation's alumni mentor network, which is amazing.
How important is mentorship and what difference does it make for you?
Avery Maltz: It's incredibly important. It's -- and it's made a huge difference for me.
When I think back to when I was younger, when I tried to go to college right out of high school, I...I didn't have any mentors. I didn't have any adults in my life to offer that support or guidance. I didn't even know who my advisor was. And so, I really fell through the cracks because of that.
So it -- it's really important to me to have mentors and to have people who I can go to, and also to step into that role when I can. and to to see, like, who's struggling around me and who might need some support with something that I've already been through.
Zydalis Bauer: And I know that you're doing that currently at Holyoke Community College. You've really taken a leadership role during your time there.
Just a couple of ways that you have: you are a peer tutor, supplemental instructor, and you're also president and co-founder of the Neurodiversity Club.
What drives you to immerse yourself in all of these different initiatives and why are you so passionate about building community?
Avery Maltz: Well, the easy answer is that it's really fun! But yeah, aside from that, I mean, I really -- I really do feel strongly, just from my own path in life, you know, that I don't -- I don't want people to fall through the cracks in the way that I did.
And I don't have any regrets, you know. I think it's all part of it. And yeah, spending my 20s doing other things and then coming back to school has been part of my path. But it doesn't have to be that difficult for everyone.
And I just think that everyone benefits when we all lift each other up. And so, you know, I just think it -- it just feels very basic to me, to be looking out in that way and to be connected and to help others connect in.
Zydalis Bauer: Now let's switch gears a little bit, because I think what you're studying is fascinating. You have really found your passion for research and STEM, which is science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Something that you're exploring is understanding how different cultures relate to the natural world that they inhabit.
How does your passion for natural sciences and social justice go hand in hand? Because that's not something that I think many people think about how relatable they are. So tell me about that.
Avery Maltz: So, I started off as a biology major, and I just really wanted to learn all about the natural world. And, you know, starting out, I was kind of like, "Oh, I hope that I can, you know, contribute to to to helping with some issue that we're facing today with the climate or, you know, the human impact on nature."
And as I started to go through my studies, I started to realize that like, everything is connected! And and we can't ignore the human element of that, and you know, there's a lot of instances where environmental issues are tied into systemic issues of racism.
And so, yeah, I realized that there's really no way for me to -- to fully be effective in the way that I want to be without looking at things through a lens of social justice.
Zydalis Bauer: What do you see as your goal for the future, beyond Holyoke Community College?
Avery Maltz: I would love to get my bachelor's and then continue on after that. I really love school, so I would love to be a student for a while. And yeah, that's that's pretty much the goal so far, to just keep learning.
Zydalis Bauer: Now what message would you share with others who may have been facing similar struggles you have or struggles in general? What advice would you give them to find a community or an outlet for themselves?
Avery Maltz: Try to reach out to someone. Like, there's always someone else who's going to be going through a similar issue or someone who has gone through something similar. And, like, even if not, then like, there's someone around you who knows someone.
So, that's what I've done in moments where I really have been confused by something or haven't really known how to overcome a problem. I just kind of figure out, like, who I need to connect with. Who will either connect me to a resource or or just listen or or be able to help me through it
? And that's something I've learned as a student. Like, if I have a question or I'm confused about something, chances are someone else in the class is, too. So I'll always raise my hand and ask the question!
FULL EPISODE: January 20, 2022
January 20, 2022
Celebrate the 130th anniversary of basketball by digging into the archives at Springfield College, where the sport was invented and first played. UMass Fine Arts Center Director Jamila Deria shares how the local arts scene continu
Celebrate the 130th anniversary of basketball by digging into the archives at Springfield College, where the sport was invented and first played. UMass Fine Arts Center Director Jamila Deria shares how the local arts scene continues to thrive in the face of the pandemic and talks about upcoming shows at the FAC.
Then, visit Shire Breu-Hous, a craft brewery and one of many small businesses bringing new life to the historic Stationery Factory in Dalton. Meet Avery Maltz, an LGBTQ+ student at HCC whose inspiring story and passion for learning earned them a Point Foundation scholarship.