The University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Arts is going to hold its yearly Arts Matters Conference, from March 21st to the 23rd. While the conference’s call for submissions was put out late in the Fall term, it will remain open until March 1st. This year’s theme is “Navigating Change in the Age of Uncertainty” – but students need not conform to it.


Arts Matters is an opportunity for students to showcase their research, artwork, music, and other forms of academic and/or creative expression. With that in mind, The Brunswickan has spoken to three of the organizers: Tabatha Armstrong, Betina Agas, and Lily Keech. 


Officially Tabatha’s title is “Student Engagement Officer,” but she is truly an ever-present figure for all Arts students at UNB. She is perhaps best recognized for distributing the Faculty of Arts weekly newsletter, although students may also have met her through her work with the Arts Peer Mentor program, Experiential Learning, or the Arts Internship program. 


Betina is an alumna of UNB, having graduated from the Psychology program, and Lily is a second-year Bachelor of Arts student planning to major in English. 


Aside from Betina and Lily, there are four other students organizing Arts Matters, which prides itself in being a conference “for students, by students.”


Tabatha noted that Arts Matters has grown significantly since its inception. 


“Arts Matters began as a single panel of student presentations, basically a single afternoon, back in 2015 …The first couple years it was smaller, and it has now grown from a single afternoon to a multi-day event, organized by and for students.” She explained.


“The focus of it was really to kind of offer a space and an opportunity for art students, especially students in Humanities, Social Sciences and creative disciplines to come together to share their work with each other, with their peers, and to kind of make connections.”


The nature of the work presented at Arts Matters is multi-faceted, as it goes beyond your typical academic conference research presentation. 


“It can be creative work, so it can be films, paintings, multimedia projects, game design projects … it can be artwork, so if a student doesn’t want to give a presentation and just wants to display their artwork, they can also do that.”


Lily gave a personal example that relates to this diversity in presentations: 


“I’ve actually been talking with a couple of people in my English class and they said that they had some artwork that they wanted to present.”


Betina explained how she got to know Arts Matters, and how she ended up in the organizing team. 


“I also didn’t know about the Arts Matters Conference before … it’s such an amazing, amazing thing for students … but I don’t know why I haven’t heard of it… [I] only started to know about it once I applied under Tabitha as assistant in the Work-Study program… So I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, why not? I want to join as an organizer.’ And it’s really fun. You get to connect with different people from various faculties.” 


There are two routes for students to get involved in Arts Matters: the Work-Study program and the Peer Mentor program. Lily got involved in Arts Matters as a Peer Mentor: 


“When I was applying to be a peer mentor, I actually saw that there were like a couple of options that you could be a part of, like, for next year… I saw the Arts Matters Conference. I looked it up a little bit through the UNB website and everything, asked some people about it and it just sounded awesome. So that is how I got into it.”


Submissions for Arts Matters are open until March 1st, 2024. You can find more information via this link.

Related Posts