Fine Arts 4 U mobile Web site connects with students

Today marks the launch of FA4U (Fine Arts for You), a handy, smartphone-friendly Web site developed by the Office of Student & Academic Services in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Targeting new and prospective students, the site hosts a wealth of useful information for “newbies” that has been formatted specifically for iPhones, BlackBerrys and other mobile media – but can also be viewed on laptop or desktop computers.

“We see FA4U as a great starting point to explore our Faculty, our campus and our city online,” says Lynda Tam, director of academic affairs. “The questions and concerns of incoming students – like how to access the rich resources York offers – remain constant, but with the growing popularity of smartphones and mobile Internet access, we now have a new way to answer and communicate.”

The New 2 T.O. page collects links to predominantly off-campus information about Toronto events, arts & culture, public transit, popular media, recreation and health. A section called Arts on the Cheap provides a list of cultural institutions in the city that offer student or rush ticket discounts.

Another special section in New to T.O is the Student Guide, which reads like an FAQ list about student life, from questions like: “Where can I find information about getting involved on campus?” to “How do I pay my student account?” Live links connect to pages on the main York Web site that provide the answers. This guide will also be produced in paper form – a fun, accordion-style strip that folds to the size of a business card – handy to put into a pocket.

If New 2 T.O. doesn’t give the answers they’re looking for, students can contact Faculty of Fine Arts advisers directly via the Ask Us page. It features an online form so students can e-mail questions to fine arts staff within the Web browser, without having to launch their e-mail app.

“The vast majority of our students are using mobile devices to communicate,” says Tam. “Our recruitment campaigns in fine arts use the watchwords ‘seriously creative’ and ‘seriously connected’. This new mobile site shows we’re as creative and connected as we say we are.”

Another fun feature of FA4U is Tour Fine Arts, a four-minute student-produced video showing fine arts students “in action” in the Faculty’s studios, stages and labs. Clips include a molten bronze pour in the L.L. Odette Centre for Sculpture, dance performances in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre, design students working with large-format printers and film students working with boom microphones on the sound stage. Future students can now look at York’s outstanding fine arts facilities no matter where in the world they are.

The final page, Career Guide, includes a link to a booklet produced by the Fine Arts Office of Student & Academic Services, titled Finding Your Way. Researched and written by fine arts student ambassadors in 2009-2010 in collaboration with the York University Career Centre, the guide covers each of the departments in the Faculty of Fine Arts: dance, design, film, fine arts cultural studies, music, theatre and visual arts. Each section includes extensive lists of industry-specific job search tools, arts organizations, professional associations and other useful links. There’s also helpful information and pointers about setting goals, networking, interview and resumé tips, grant writing, self-employment and more.

“In addition to an exploration tool, I hope the site gets used as a way to celebrate the news of admission to one of York’s fine arts programs. New students can share the video with their friends and family to show off our state-of-the-art facilities,” says Tam.

“Exploring the New to T.O. links could provide a feeling of security and confidence in the short term – to get a sense of Toronto life and the city’s resources before you arrive. Reading the Career Guide could provide the same sort of security in a long-term, future planning way,” says Tam. “Anything we can do to ease the transition from secondary to postsecondary study, including perhaps leaving your hometown or home country for the first time, gets us closer to our goal of ensuring a positive experience for all our students.”

To learn more, check out the FA4U Web site.