Museum project allows Mavericks to pursue passions

Communication students produce multimedia stories for Arlington Museum of Art

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024 • Cristal Gonzalez : contact

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CreateCollab, a unique collaboration between University of Texas at Arlington Associate Professor of communication Erika Pribanic-Smith and the Arlington Museum of Art, is a rich repository of digital storytelling generated entirely by Maverick students.

Stories range from an interview with a local aspiring musician to a one-minute documentary about Nepalese dancers to an audio exploration of one UTA student’s annual journey to Veracruz to celebrate posada with her family. From informational to deeply personal, the stories were created by students in Pribanic-Smith’s “Digital Storytelling” class as a way to gain direct experience and portfolio-ready work ahead of graduation.

“Multimedia storytelling and mobile journalism are important skills for journalists,” Pribanic-Smith said. “This project provides students with published multimedia clips that they can present to employers, which will help them as they seek internships and jobs.”

Museum Senior Editor Amy Schultz first published stories from Pribanic-Smith’s students three years ago in the online arts and community magazine “Sociability,” where she was editor-in-chief. When Schultz began working on the museum’s blog, she suggested the partnership move there. Two years later, CreateCollab is thriving.

“UTA students are uniquely qualified to take on a project like this,” Schultz said. “They’re dreamers, and they’re also smart, talented and driven. They’ve got their feet on the ground, but they reach for the stars, like the saying goes.”

Teacher leaning over student in a computer lab

Each semester kicks off with an introductory session where Schultz introduces the students to the museum, learns about them and their interests, and gets story ideas rolling in a way that aligns with the museum’s exhibits and mission. Students are then tasked with producing three major projects throughout the semester. Each assignment includes a pitch meeting with Schultz modeled after editorial meetings that would take place in professional organizations. A revision process follows, and completed stories that meet the editorial criteria are sent to Schultz for final say on what gets published.

The stories that do get published live on the Arlington Museum of Art’s website and YouTube playlist.

“Creating stories for a client makes the creation process more real, more meaningful for the students,” Pribanic-Smith said. “Doing this sort of work broadens students’ perspectives and engages them with what Arlington and surrounding communities have to offer. In this instance, the community also learns more about what’s happening around them through the work of the students.”

For Katharine Robb (’23 BA, Communication), who was able to leverage her work through CreateCollab into a summer internship with the museum, the opportunity was a dream come true.

“I’ve always wanted to write about art, culture, music, and minority and women’s issues, and the museum is very much tied to all of those themes, so I got to write passion projects,” she said. “The museum work was a great jumping-off point, and I’ve made a lot of connections.”

Recent stories for CreateCollab include an audiogram interview with Alan Petsche (’80 BA, Management), Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and owner of Petsche Music Group; a one-minute documentary about UTA student and entrepreneur Muiz Ali; a deep dive into fair food; and much more.

“I discovered I really enjoy telling these types of stories and getting to highlight people’s passions,” said Raymond Pierucci, a journalism major who is minoring in public relations. “Learning to tell these types of stories can carry over into the public relations and marketing world, as well as even being able to highlight my own successes down the road.”

Pribanic-Smith said that watching her students grow and flourish has been her favorite part of the partnership.

“They come up with some amazing story ideas. They work hard, and each story that has been published has demonstrated the student’s passion and unique perspective while highlighting some aspect of the community,” she said. “I love watching their ideas come to life as they learn the digital storytelling process.”

- Written by Amber Scott – Marketing, Messaging and Engagement