West Liberty’s annual MADFest continues accepting applications until March 7


Famous to not only our campus here on the Hilltop but the greater Ohio Valley is West Liberty’s MAD Festival; standing for Media, Arts and Design, the competition is a culmination of countless creative minds throughout the tri-state area, it offers an invaluable opportunity to young and mature creators alike to showcase their work with some good natured competition and receive feedback from not only West Liberty faculty but professional jurors from the work’s respective field (i.e., creative writing, digital art, traditional art, etc.). For high school students, there’s also a chance to earn some substantial scholarships if they should choose to continue their creative pursuits and studies here on the Hilltop.

Dr. Matthew Harder, Dean of the College of Arts and Communications and Director of Music Technology, said the university has hosted as many as 400 high school students from around the Ohio Valley and tri-state area for festivals in the past to submit and showcase their work; “It’s a wonderful celebration of the arts coming together, digitally or traditionally, drawn or painted, animated or composed, sometimes even documented, it shows the sheer amount of talent, culture, and creativity we have here in the valley. Of course the competition and feedback provided to the students is a great opportunity for them, but it’s also a great opportunity for recruitment for the university to get even more talented and creative individuals here on campus.”

Of those creative and talented minds already here on campus, MAD Fest in previous years had opened its competition and gallery opportunities to West Liberty’s own students; this year however, it will only cater to high school students. When asked if there was any particular reason for this change, Dr. Harder said it really laid in the ease of management for the festival as a whole; “Because of COVID-19, there won’t be any actual campus festivities, no jurors present, and no in-person workshops, so focusing on the recruitment aspect of the festival and limiting the competition aspect to high school students seemed like the easiest most natural change to make. Of course we may go back to including college students and the campus back into the competition and festival again in the future, but this year we wanted to keep it as manageable as possible. Students here at West Liberty, though, do have the opportunity to enter any creative works into the RECAP competition.” Entries for this year’s RECAP competition close on March 5, categories include creative works and performance, oral presentation, research papers, and posters.

Even if COVID-19 has limited the festival in some ways, submissions for the competition have always been online through a university created portal, form, or website; when asked what the overall transition into going completely virtual was like for the festival, Dr. Harder was optimistic in speaking of some interesting opportunities for the competition coming from the change; “Even though there won’t be any on campus workshops or festivities, we’ve reached out to various creative arts teachers throughout the area, who would have usually brought their class up to the campus for the festival, and offered them the chance to Zoom into multiple different faculty workshops we’ll be streaming from campus; so that could provide some interesting streamlining from our university to them, it’s not ideal but it definitely still works and is getting the students of the area engaged and active within this year’s festival.”

Entries for the 2021 MAD Festival competition will be accepted until March 7, with categories ranging from audio, digital, traditional, and video submissions; from April 12-16, virtual workshops and awards ceremonies will be held. More information can be found on the festival’s website at https://westliberty.edu/madfest/.