by Eric Jensen
With music concerts, movies, art exhibits, lectures, community service projects, and more scheduled throughout the year, the phrase “there’s nothing to do” is a misnomer at Victoria College and in the surrounding community.
VC’s Music Department boasts some impressive talent, both from its faculty and students. That talent is shared throughout the school year with the VC Guest and Faculty Recital Series. Previous performers have included Music Professors Dr. Marylynn Fletcher and Jonathan Anderson, as well as adjunct instructors, students, and guests.
Audiences have been treated to voice, piano, and musical instrument performances in the series. Additionally, the VC Jazz Combo, composed of VC students and under the direction of Anderson, performs a free outdoor concert each spring and at various college and community functions.
The visual arts are also an important part of campus life, with a variety of artwork exhibited throughout the year in VC’s Art Gallery. Art Instructor Cathleen Gordon schedules exhibits to showcase the works of faculty, students, and community members. On display throughout the year are photos, ceramics, paintings, pottery, digital art, and drawings. The exhibits are free and open to the public.
VC student artwork is also seen every February during Empty Bowls, an event that helps fight hunger in the community. For the past 10 years, current and former students have handcrafted bowls and donated them to the event for purchase. Attendees can fill their bowls with a variety of soups donated by Victoria-area eateries. Proceeds from the event go to area food kitchens, assistance ministries, the senior citizen center, and VC’s Visual Art Scholarship.
“Food for thought” is also provided through Victoria College’s Lyceum Lecture Series, which brings relevant and engaging speakers for students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community to enjoy. Attendees can meet and hear from authors, scholars, science writers, civic and community activists, motivational speakers, and others in this free series. Past speakers have included author Elizabeth Gilbert, youth advocate Wes Moore, the late poet Maya Angelou, and Black Hawk Master Pilot Michael Durant.
The John W. Stormont Lecture Series on South Texas gives students, faculty, and the community an opportunity to hear presentations on social sciences. The 2014 lecture series had “Immigrant Narratives/Border Crossings” as its theme.
Not all activities occur on the VC campus. Students, faculty, and staff volunteers reciprocate the support given to VC by the community through “Pirates Give Back,” held in conjunction with Victoria County United Way’s Day of Caring. In 2014, volunteers painted the interior of the Billy T. Cattan Recovery Center and the exterior of a YMCA building, put together food packages at the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent, and cleaned the Mid-Coast Family Services Women’s Shelter.
A large and appreciative audience attended the Victoria College Lyceum Lecture featuring Wes Moore, author, Rhodes Scholar, combat veteran, and youth advocate.
VC’s Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts, a 476-seat venue located in historic downtown Victoria, offers a wide variety of performances throughout the year. The Welder Center is home to Theatre Victoria, which offers plays and musicals produced and performed by local community members. It also hosts Victoria Ballet Theatre with at least three dance performances scheduled each year, including the Christmas tradition “The Nutcracker.”
Over the summer, the Welder Center began to screen a wide variety of movies such as classic westerns, dramas, and comedies, along with current box office hits. Community members may rent the facility and select their favorite films for Welder Center showings. They can also attend one of the many independent films offered at the Welder Center by the Victoria TX Indie Film Festival.
Those with an appetite for history need look no further than the Museum of the Coastal Bend, where they can learn about “Where Texas History Began.” Through archaeological artifacts and interpretive exhibits, the museum’s permanent exhibits tell the story of the 13,000 years of heritage, beginning with the Texas Coastal Bend’s earliest human inhabitants, European exploration, colonization, and concluding with early ranching. Discovery programs for families are held one Saturday each month, and a full slate of evening lectures and presentations are offered to the community during the spring and fall. Temporary exhibits provide in-depth coverage of heritage themes, from prehistoric cultures to today’s Texas events. The friendly admission policy of “pay-what-you-want” makes the museum experience attainable by all.