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Giving back to arts community through PACalendar app

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It all started in spring of 2017. Current seniors Marissa Works and Anthony Stem had an idea that would change how Penn State performing arts events reached the public on and off campus.

The two students, both leaders in the Performing Arts Council (PAC), worked diligently throughout the year to create a channel through which audiences could easily obtain information about arts events on campus. It was not long before the framework for the PACalendar app was created.  

This easily accessible app models after the Google calendar on smartphones and provides details such as the date and time each event is scheduled. Works and Stem’s main focus was ease of accessibility and information in order to drive audiences. 

Both Works and Stem are Schreyer Honors College students. Works is double-majoring in music education and public relations. Stem is majoring in political science with a music minor, and is a member of the Blue Band. Since both have involvement in the arts, this was a way for the two to give back to that community.

After getting the basic idea together, the first step was interviewing students in the College of Information Sciences and Technology in order to get someone on the team to help with the technical side of creating the app. From there, they teamed up with Vince Vella, an alumna and past member of the Blue Band. Vella helped them in the development of different versions of the app until they decided on a final product. 

Works and Stem had to get the app approved by multiple organizations before actively pursuing it. For months, they worked closely with the College of Arts and Architecture, Performing Arts Council and the Center for the Performing Arts. Because of having this support, Works and Stem stress how important it is for the app to make more people aware of the vibrant arts community on campus.   

The two were able to meet with the presidents of clubs and organizations to ensure their events were included in the app and to make it known to their groups. Clare McHugh (biomedical/mechanical engineering major) believes the app has transformed how people react to arts events on campus. “As someone who does not normally actively seek arts events, I have definitely found the app has increased my ability to attend these events. I think PAC is making great progress at the University to bring awareness directly to the students of the importance of arts events,” McHugh said.

Almost daily adjustments are made to the app, the most recent one being a logo change. A major aspect of creating the app for Works and Stem was making sure it could be sustained after they graduate in December of this year. They want to make sure they continue to give back to the Penn State community after they leave. 

There are plans in the future to start another wave of marketing and reach out to more student-run organizations to diversify the users and audiences. Works and Stem discussed how they look forward to putting out a survey to the public to find out how much the app has influenced awareness of performing arts events.

Story by Brooke Swales