Common Spaces Program Returns to Yard

With the return of cheerful, multicolored chairs to the Yard and a line-up of lively performances by Harvard community members and outside artists, The Harvard Common Spaces Program launched last week for the 2012 season.

Each year, Common Spaces invites Harvard students, faculty, and staff to showcase their talents on the Plaza outside the Science Center and the Dudley House Patio. The program is also responsible for a number of other fixtures on the plaza, including Harvard Skate, a skating rink, and a number of popular food trucks.

Common Spaces, which was originally developed in 2008, “have not only injected a stronger sense of community, they have proven how valuable and important it is for the University to provide people with the opportunity to share and engage with each other,” University spokesperson Lauren M. Marshall wrote in an email.

Student performers said that Common Spaces have allowed them to reach a broader audience.

George W. Zuo ’13, president of Mariachi Veritas, a group that performed on the Plaza on Friday, said that "it’s great for us as performers because we get that exposure and the opportunity to show how versatile we are as a group—we carry huge instruments, but we can unload very quickly.”

Diego Rentería ’11-12, another member of Mariachi Veritas, said that the performances add vibrancy to Harvard’s public spaces.

“We can create spaces where people can congregate and enjoy being outside or enjoy a performance as they’re walking by," he said. "It makes the Yard much more lively and welcoming to people."

Students have also taken advantage of Common Spaces’ versatility to transform campus spaces in novel ways. Last week, the Harvard Libertarian Forum erected a free speech wall outside of the Science Center in honor of Students For Liberty’s Free Speech Week. HLF member Corinne H. Curcie ’15 said that the free speech wall’s noticeable physical presence prompted participation of the Harvard community at large.

“If we did the free speech project online, it would only get people who were interested in the idea, but because it was in such a public space, we got a diverse mixture [of participants],” Curcie said.

She also noted that installing the wall in a common space was in line with HLF’s goal of engaging students in an open and uncensored dialogue.

The Common Spaces program encourages members of the Harvard community to submit performance and activity ideas throughout the semester. This season’s events will run through April 26.

“I would love to see not only our group, but many more groups perform on mini-stages throughout Harvard,” Rentería said. “Absolutely count on us being part of Common Spaces in the future.”

—Staff writer Marina N. Bolotnikova can be reached at mbolotnikova@college.harvard.edu.

Tags