Cultural Enhancement Series kicks off next Saturday

Samantha Wright

This year’s Cultural Enhancement Series features guests from all walks of life. 

The Cultural Enhancement Series is a way for both the campus and the community to see a diverse gathering of artists and scholars. It’s an opportunity to glimpse new ideas and new ways of viewing the world.

Larry Snyder, the interim dean of Potter College, described the series as a way not only to bring culture to WKU and Bowling Green,  but also to celebrate the culture that is here.

“We bring culture to the community, but we also invite the culture here,” he said. “We try to have a wide array of events and performances to appeal to as many types of groups.” 

He added that—barring any unforeseen circumstances—he plans to attend all the events.

Hailing from Bowling Green, Grammy Award-winning instrumentalist Sam Bush is the first guest of the Cultural Enhancement Series and performs on Sept. 12. His concert is already sold out, but there will be a stand-by line at 6:30 the night of the event in case seating becomes available. Bush is well known for his mandolin playing, but he also sings and plays the guitar and fiddle. He has seven solo albums as well as a tour DVD and several collaborative albums.

While he is considered part of the bluegrass music genre, Bush is also a prominent figure in the newgrass music genre.

On Sept. 21, NPR’s legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg will be visiting WKU to give a talk entitled “The Supreme Court and Its Impact on You.”

Totenberg has won many awards for her reporting, including the Joan S. Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based national affairs and public policy reporting, and has been honored seven times for excellence in legal reporting by the American Bar Association.  

Among her most notable coverage is her story on sexual assault allegations made by University of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill against Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991.    

Award-winning author Neil Gaiman is scheduled to speak in a live interview with David Bell, a WKU English professor and published author, on Oct. 6. Gaiman is an author in many mediums: over 30 novels, several TV episodes, graphic novels and comics, film scripts and more. Among many other rewards, he has received the Newbery Medal, the Carnegie Medal and the World Fantasy Award. 

Bell has written several novels himself, most recently “Somebody I Used to Know,” published in 2015. His 2011 novel “Cemetery Girl” was awarded the Le Prix Polar International de Cognac for the best crime novel of the year. 

Bell said he’s feeling both enthusiastic and nervous about the event.

“It’s exciting, it’s nerve-wracking, it’ll be a really big, exciting event,” he said.

Bell added that he is an especially huge fan of Gaiman’s short stories and is teaching some of them in his class this semester.

Bell hopes to lead the interview into new waters since Gaiman is an old hand at being interviewed.

“I hope to bring up questions that he’s never discussed before,” he said. “I want the conversation to go in a surprising direction.”

The Martha Graham Dance Company will be visiting WKU on Feb. 3, 2016. In 1926, Martha Graham created the Martha Graham Studio to teach students her unique style of dancing. According to the company’s website, “Martha Graham and her Company have expanded contemporary dance’s vocabulary of movement and forever altered the scope of the art form by rooting works in contemporary social, political, psychological and sexual contexts, deepening their impact and resonance.” The Company will celebrate 90 years of performances in 2016.

The Grammy Award-winning male a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo will perform on Feb. 10, 2016, as part of the International Year of South Africa. The group formed in the 1960s in South Africa and sings in a traditional style known as isicathamiya. The group has received three Grammys and been nominated 15 times; they’ve also been honored with other awards. They have recorded with big-name musical artists, among them Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton and Josh Groban.

All events are free. All events except for the performance by Sam Bush are swipeable. All events are at 7:30 p.m. in Van Meter Hall.

Snyder says the Cultural Enhancement Series is WKU’s way of giving back to both the students and the community.

“Part of our mission is to bring education to campus and the wider community,” Snyder said. “I like to say we’re a public university for public good.”