The University of Iowa

WorldCanvass holds its first event at FilmScene

September 3rd, 2014

The Daily Iowan

FilmScene and WorldCanvass have recently joined forces in an effort to spark intellectual discussion and community in Iowa City.

The new collaboration held its first event, “The Passion that Drives Innovation,” Tuesday night.

The two organizations will continue to work together in hosting the University of Iowa television and radio discussion series WorldCanvass once a month on Tuesdays at FilmScene, 118 E. College St.

The series moves downtown from the Old Capitol Senate Chamber.

“The Senate Chamber was a great, beautiful venue, and we’re thankful to have hosted there for the last five years,” said Joan Kjaer, the director of strategic communications for UI International Programs and host of WorldCanvass. “We were always honored to be there.”

WorldCanvass is the brainchild of Kjaer, who was inspired by years of working on similar projects during her career with Iowa Public Radio. The shows focus on a variety of topics, drawing perspective from a wide range of speakers both local and international.

Kjaer said that although the program is grateful for the Old Capitol’s hospitality, FilmScene is a much better fit with state-of-the-art live sound systems, great accessibility and comfortable seating.

“We’re excited to host the event, and I think it will prove to be a great venue for WorldCanvass,” said Andrew Sherburne, a co-founder of FilmScene.

UITV and the University of Iowa recording studio will handle the show’s broadcast.

The new partnership and location change to FilmScene’s downtown space is the result of an effort to bring the WorldCanvass discussions closer to the community, Kjaer said.

“We’re very excited to take a university program into a community space and get a new dimension in our discussions,” she said.

Kjaer also believes the new partnership will increase student traffic.

“[FilmScene’s] audience largely overlaps with [WorldCanvass], so we hope that the two groups can effectively learn more about each other,” she said.

One of these audience members, 24-year-old Garrett Pittman of Iowa City, who attended WorldCanvass’ inaugural event at FilmScene last Tuesday, found the new partnership invigorating.

“It provides a great opportunity for students and other people involved with the university to branch out and connect with the community,” Pittman said. “I will definitely attend more of these events in the future.” 

FilmScene will supplement these discussions by showing films that amplify the themes conveyed during WorldCanvass. By screening films relevant to WorldCanvass topics, Sherburne hopes to foster a true partnership, as opposed to just filling the space.

For example, Sherburne said FilmScene will screen Finding Fela, a documentary about the life of African musician and revolutionary Fela Kuti. He said this relates to the latest WorldCanvass topic because Kuti used musical innovation to spark a political movement in 1970s Nigeria.

“[FilmScene] aims to enrich the cultural vitality of the Iowa City area through film that challenges, inspires, educates, and entertains,” Sherburne said. “By continuing a dialogue through WorldCanvass, we think that our viewers’ experiences will be more complete.”

Sherburne said both WorldCanvass and FilmScene are looking forward to seeing where the new partnership takes them.

“We’re excited to see how [it] can grow and mature from here,” he said.