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Broward College Arts Program Seeks Audience Of "Artivists"

Christine DiMattei

Until about 18 months ago, the auditorium at Broward College’s Pembroke Pines campus was largely unused.

“They’ve done graduations for kindergarten through fifth grade,” laughs Lamar Lovelace, director of the Broward College South Campus Office of Cultural Affairs. “A few film festivals here and there, but no concerted effort to program around arts and culture.”

But now, the 352-seat theater has been re-branded as BSOCA. And Lovelace is hoping its audiences get fired up enough to change the world. 

“Our first exhibit here about a year ago was ‘Art Plus Activism Equals Artivism.’ And so my dream is that we create a community of artivism,” he says.

Under Lovelace’s leadership, BSOCA offers an art and culture program designed for both student engagement and mass appeal. The program is divided into four distinct categories: “Adjusted Lens” concentrates on documentaries and indie films, “Against the Wall” features art exhibits, and live music is the focus of “Eargasm” events.

But arguably, the category getting the most attention is BSOCA’s “Overheard” series of one-person shows.  Lovelace says the title for the series sprung from his desire to introduce audiences to people they might hear or read about but don’t interact with on a regular basis.

One example is a one-man show by Bronx-based performance artist Roberto “Simply Rob” Vassilarakis. The show recounts Simply Rob’s experiences as a gay teenager disowned by his parents, as well as his struggles as a recovered meth addict and HIV survivor.

The “Overheard" shows always end with a Q&A with the artist.

“This a really wonderful opportunity for the audience to have an interaction with a neighbor,” says Lovelace.  “Maybe not a neighbor in Pembroke Pines, but a neighbor in terms of the world.”

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.