The Ouachita Student Foundation has announced that it will livestream Tiger Tunes, its annual fundraising event for student scholarships, with the theme “Tunes REWIND” on Saturday, Oct. 3. The decision to move the event to a virtual format comes in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are focusing on doing everything possible to protect the health and safety of our students and any guests who come to campus,” said Jon Merryman, director of alumni relations and the Ouachita Student Foundation.
“Tiger Tunes is such an important part of the Ouachita culture,” said Brady Barton, a senior political science and graphic design double major from Russellville, Ark., and this year’s Tiger Tunes director for OSF. “When we realized that we would not be able to host an in-person Tunes this fall, OSF and Ouachita set out to find a way to still honor the Tunes spirit.”
As OSF’s premier fundraiser each fall, and a highlight of Ouachita Baptist University’s Homecoming Week activities, Tiger Tunes raises more than $100,000 in scholarships each year for students to continue their education at Ouachita. The 46-year-old tradition features themed and elaborately choreographed performances by Ouachita social clubs and student organizations, attracting thousands of Ouachita alumni, friends and members of the surrounding community.
“We are so excited to see what Tunes REWIND brings for the Ouachita community,” said Mason Woolbright, a senior business administration/management and entrepreneurship double major from Benton, Ark., and OSF president. “The reactions and feedback that we have already received from future, current and past students is encouraging. OSF is still trying to bring the same energy that is normally associated with Tiger Tunes in a COVID-appropriate way, and I cannot wait to see how it goes.”
While Tiger Tunes 2020 performances originally were scheduled in-person for Oct. 1-3, Tunes REWIND will showcase video recordings of Ouachita clubs and organizations from years’ past in a single virtual event. Show recordings will be chosen by club and organizations’ current members and alumni in the coming months and revealed during the Oct. 3 livestream.
Tunes REWIND also will be streamed at no cost, with viewers encouraged to donate the cost of the ticket or tickets they would have purchased for the live event to benefit current Ouachita students.
“OSF believes that this will be the perfect occasion for alumni to reconnect with college friends and a fun way for students on campus to engage with Ouachita traditions while still observing physical distancing guidelines,” Barton added. “Above all else, we hope that Tunes fans watch the show and continue to aid in OSF’s mission of ‘Students Helping Students.’”
“We are working toward having a full Tiger Tunes performance in Spring 2021, but if we are unable to, this may be our only chance to raise significant scholarships for students,” Merryman said. “Last year, OSF raised $118,000 for student scholarships, and that resulted in 80 students who are able to return this fall – many of whom said they definitely or probably would not have been able to return and finish their education here without the help.”
According to the Tiger Tunes website, a traditional Tiger Tunes performance would have required performers to maintain a six-foot distance while wearing masks or a 12-foot distance without masks, which would have limited the number of students able to participate. Merryman said the guidelines “made not only the performances impossible, but also rehearsals.”
Additionally, the capacity of Ouachita’s Jones Performing Arts Center – which seats an audience of roughly 1,500 – would be decreased significantly in order to adhere to the six-foot distancing standard.
One aspect of Tiger Tunes that will remain largely unchanged is the student host and hostesses. Tunes REWIND host and hostesses will introduce the lineup of shows during the livestream much like a traditional Tiger Tunes show, but they will perform 12-feet apart on stage in accordance with CDC guidelines.
“I am so thankful to be a student at a university that not only places priority on our safety, but also on raising money for student scholarships – and us being able to have some fun for the first ever Tiger Tunes REWIND!” said Wade Wilson, a sophomore Christian studies/Biblical studies and Christian ministries double major from Springdale, Ark., and 2020 Tunes REWIND host. “I hope that everyone will choose to take full advantage of this unique opportunity and participate in the show through the voting and audience participation element.”
“I think that Tunes REWIND is going to be something that people will remember for a long time,” said Autumn Romines, a senior musical theatre major from Cabot, Ark., and 2020 Tunes REWIND hostess. “We didn’t cancel because we know how necessary Tiger Tunes is to raise money for scholarships.”
During the livestream, current students, alumni and friends can text-to-give to determine the winner of Tunes REWIND, similar to the Tiger Tunes People’s Choice Award process in previous years. Winners will be announced live on stage in Jones Performing Arts Center at the end of the performance.
“As soon as we made the announcement about the livestream event, we heard stories of club group messages and alumni Facebook pages blowing up with what each person thought was the best past show – and that’s really the first step in getting everyone excited for this Tiger Tunes REWIND experience!” Merryman said.
OSF plans to host a live, in-person Tiger Tunes weekend in Spring 2021, pending health guidelines, with dates to be announced in January 2021.
This article was written by Rachel Moreno and originally published by Ouachita Baptist University at obu.edu/stories