Message from the Center: Lucinda Childs

With the contemporary dance program this year, we have put a focus on three singular choreographers whose early start came from the now legendary Judson Church movement. Deborah Hay, Lucinda Childs and Trisha Brown along with other contemporaries founded Judson Dance Theater in the late 1960’s. It was a space where they all forged their early explorations, developed their choreographic practices and were able to perform regularly for the audiences that were largely comprised of their artist peers. The “downtown” NY art scene was a hotbed, and in the emerging post-modern dance movement, these three women generated material that continues to influence artists to this day.

Lucinda Childs, Andy Warhol 16mm Film Still (1964)
Lucinda Childs, Andy Warhol 16mm Film Still (1964)

These choreographers went on to pursue different paths over their evolving and accomplished careers. While their dance work and lifelong contributions to the form is individualistic and distinct, they each share the sustained commitment to the internal and externally facing architectures of movement. From the infinite possibilities, they shape their practices on an axis that reaches the sublime, and breaks convention. There is wit and irreverence, and an unmistakable joy in liberty that never strays from an intense focus on the choreographic intention.

Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Photo by Nathaniel Tileston (1979)
Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Photo by Nathaniel Tileston (1979)

Lucinda Childs: A Portrait (1963 -2016) offers us a an arc across her evolving sensibilities and explorations through a selection of choreographies in a chronological order. Pastime (1963) through several choreographies from the 1970’s to her world premiere this evening of Into View (2016). A rare experience to survey time and process through a truly masterful artist.

Lucinda Childs, Photo by Lucie Jansch (2012)
Lucinda Childs, Photo by Lucie Jansch (2012)

We would like to thank the Board and our progressive supporters whose contributions enabled the Center to contribute to Lucinda Child’s latest choreography, Into View. As a co-commissioner, we are proud to also be hosting the World Premiere in Los Angeles. The company, designers and creative team has been here working with our production team for the final rehearsals and production development leading up to this auspicious occasion in Royce Hall.

For those of you here tonight, you will become a valued part of the history of the work as it moves to BAM in New York and on to many of the world’s most revered stages in Europe and beyond. We would also like to express our appreciation for Pomegranate Arts, whose work as one of the nation’s most esteemed Producers, and Lucinda herself, for entrusting us with the work. We could not be more proud.

Thank you all for being here.

Support Design for Sharing

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The Design for Sharing program at CAP UCLA has transformed the lives of over half a million Los Angeles students and their teachers since it was founded 47 years ago in 1969. To give you an idea of what Design for Sharing means to the students and teachers of LA, here are their own words:

I had lots of fun because we got to build a violin. Thank you for letting us go to your school. I loved it when we got to learn about the instruments around the world.
– Amy, Catskill Avenue Elementary School

When I finish high school, I am going to UCLA, and I am joining the dance program. I was planning to quit dance and start swimming, but seeing you guys I decided to carry on with my passion for dance. Thank you for inspiring me and encouraging me to keep dancing!
– Destiny, Southeast Middle School

I really enjoyed the creativeness and originality of the play. This performance showed me that anything is possible and that everyone has the right to share their story and be themselves. […] Never stop doing what you love.
– Tess, San Pedro High School

What an immensely powerful performance and a valuable experience for students to be on a college campus: many students said things like, “Can’t you see yourself being a college student now?” THANK YOU!
– The 8th Grade Faculty, Camino Nuevo Middle School

Composing the Body:
Portrait of a Score

Deborah Hay, photo Sarah Granholm
Deborah Hay, photo by Sarah Granholm

In March of 2010, Deborah Hay performed her first solo in six years at Dancespace Project in New York City. This piece, No Time To Fly, became the foundation of a number of subsequent works. In early 2011, Bill Forsythe’s Motion Bank invited the performers Jeanine Durning, Juliette Mapp and Ros Warby to adapt this score — first as an individual solo and then into a new trio. This new piece, now called As Holy Sites Go was performed in 2012 at Motion Bank’s Frankfurt Lab.

Jeanine Durning and Ros Warby
Jeanine Durning and Ros Warby, As Holy Sites Go / duet

The trio adaptation of As Holy Sites Go, has been adapted yet again, but now as a duet, by two of the original performers, Ros and Jeanine. The digital score of the Motion Bank process, was set by Deborah on the twenty-one dancers of Cullberg Ballet in a new iteration called Figure A Sea. Both of these new works make up this weekend’s program.

Cullberg Ballet
Cullberg Ballet, Figure a Sea, photo by Urban Jörén

The process of this series of adaptations (which encompassed both live performance and digital transcription/performance), is documented on the Motion Bank website, and two of the resulting films are being shown on the large screens in front of the courtyard.

The evolution of this score, from the printed word though many modalities of performance and point of view is a sublime portrait of how bodies compose themselves. The written score of No Time To Fly reads like a prose poem, with interjections of notes, drawings, footnotes, instructions. It is a way of capturing space, and then presenting that space for others to capture, or re-capture, depending on your point of view. Deborah’s works have been described as being “more like rituals than concerts,” her scores give dancers an individual agency that is not as prevalent in more traditional choreography.

From No Time To Fly:
Note: My head is free to look down or away or to turn. It is not fixed.
Note: There is no repetition in live performance.
Note: I neither hurry nor linger.

Deborah’s scores are frequently framed in the form of “What if” questions, many of which are on display in the courtyard. Deborah wrote in 2014, “For as long as I can remember I struggled with whether the questions that are applied in the performance of my work be included in the program notes. My dances would not exist without them. The conflict about identifying the question in the program is that I do not want audiences to be looking for what might either satisfy or not satisfy their beliefs about what they are seeing.”

We also struggled with how much to reveal of the questions and the score before the lights dim and the dance begins. In the end, our wonder and fascination with the score and all it offers won the day. We couldn’t help but share some of it with you: not so that it would provide you with answers, but so that it might encourage you to consider your own questions.

this empty space
a song
an ocean
a figure moves
an ocean
the figure a sea
weaving her destiny
repeatedly
dh, 2012

Our “jolly good fellows”

As the start of the new season draws closer, we’re giving you a sneak peek into some of the delights of the 2016-2017 spread. The CAP UCLA Fellows Program is dedicated to celebrating masters of their craft through multi-year presentation commitments. We hope you join us in our celebration!

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Anne Bogart & SITI Company

New York-based SITI Company, co-founded by acclaimed American theater and opera director Anne Bogart with Leon Ingulsrud and Ellen Lauren is known worldwide as a constantly evolving collective of artists whose collaborative spirit results in the creation of new theater that straddles performing arts disciplines and challenges norms. The Center will work closely with Anne Bogart and other members of the company to explore projects, educational programs and performances unique to our campus and immediate community.

In this 2016-2017 season we are delighted to team up with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra to present Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s Lost in the Stars featuring SITI Company, with direction from Anne Bogart and musical direction from Jeffrey Kahane. An adaptation of Alan Paton’s novel Cry, the Beloved Country, this 1949 Broadway musical was the last score Kurt Weill wrote for the stage before his passing.

In the 2015-2016 season we presented Steel Hammer, a collaboration among SITI Company, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Julia Wolfe and esteemed music collective Bang on A Can All-Stars. SITI Company thrilled CAP UCLA audiences in the 2014-2015 season with their adventurous collaboration with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company for the dance-theater work A Rite, inspired by Stravinsky’s iconic Rite of Spring.

Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson is among the most important visual and theater artists in the world. His work uses different artistic techniques integrating movement, dance, painting, light, design, sculpture, music and drama.

In our 2016-2017 season, we will feature a Mikhail Baryshnikov and Robert Wilson collaboration—their second for CAP UCLA. Letter to a Man is based on autobiographical texts by Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950), one of the most celebrated dancers and choreographers of his time who danced in Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and created seminal choreographies himself. His diaries, written in less than six weeks in 1919, document the young man’s descent into madness. They were first published in 1936.

We presented another collaboration of Wilson and Baryshnikov in the 2014-2015 season. Developed with, and starring, the legendary Baryshnikov, and co-starring Oscar-nominated actor Willem Dafoe, The Old Woman is an adaptation of the eponymous work by recently rediscovered Russian avant-garde author Daniil Kharms. A brilliant, obscure and slyly political novella from the 1930s, The Old Woman loosely follows the story of a struggling writer who cannot find peace with himself.

In our 2013-2014 season, we featured a solo act from Wilson. As an homage to revolutionary composer John Cage, Robert Wilson performed Cage’s Lecture on Nothing, one of the central texts of twentieth-century experimental literature. The production has been described as being an “acoustically and visually inspiring approach to the philosophical and poetic text” which Cage based on a complex time length scheme similar to some of his music.

Kronos Quartet

Through our Artist Fellow initiative, we celebrate Kronos Quartet as one of the most influential contemporary ensembles of our time and a driving force in the performing arts. For 40 years, the Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet has redefined the string quartet experience through thousands of concerts, more than 50 recordings, collaborations with composers and performers from around the globe, and more than 800 commissioned works.

CAP UCLA is delighted to present a new multimedia work featuring the Kronos Quartet for the 2016-2017 season entitled Beyond Zero, which commemorates the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War.  Dubbed “the war to end all wars” World War I ushered in a century of conflict that continues into this millennium. Kronos Quartet will perform compositions by influential composer Aleksandra Vrebalov, and in conjunction with films and archival footage from filmmaker Bill Morrison.

The Beyond Zero event will feature performances of works co-commissioned by CAP UCLA for the Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association initiative Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire.

Beginning in the 2015-2016 season, Fifty for the Future commissioned 50 new works – 10 per year for five years – devoted to contemporary approaches to the quartet and designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals. The works are being created by an eclectic group of composers – 25 men and 25 women. Kronos will premiere each piece and create companion digital materials, including scores, recordings, and performance notes, which will be distributed online for free. Fifty for the Future will present string quartet music as a living art form.

In the 2013-2014 season, CAP UCLA celebrated the longevity and far-reaching influence of Kronos Quartet in a double-performance presentation, which included a special 40th Anniversary concert and the Los Angeles debut of Kronos’ first-ever collaboration with CAP UCLA Fellow Laurie Anderson.

CAP UCLA Fellows program is supported in part by the generous support of Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy.

Welcome to our 2016-17 Season Edition

The event detail pages on our site and in the season program guide offer you a running glance at the tremendous artistry that will again take root in Los Angeles over the months ahead. As you have come to expect, there is much to discover and taking part is fortifying. As the Director of both CAP UCLA (produced programs) and of Royce Hall (heritage venue of repute), it is a true pleasure to unveil this collection of recent work by such distinct voices in contemporary performance.

Though I occupy the leadership seat, what happens here is due to the staff that I have the pleasure of collectively rolling up sleeves with every day. We are conjoined with our Board members – a philanthropic body of individuals that give (and then give some more) – to ensure that this feast of ideas will continue to happen each season. We also work in partnership with esteemed local and national foundations, art patrons, scholars and numerous colleague organizations. In doing so, we play a dynamic role in the arts internationally, while serving UCLA and the greater Los Angeles community.

We spend a lot of time thinking about YOU – the audiences who are passionate about engaging with what is going on in contemporary performance. (Your response and participation is accompanied with great anticipation on our end.)

CAP UCLA programs – on and off stage – are created to strengthen the ties that bind us to continuing artistic achievement. We make every effort to engage you by adding opportunities before or after the performances and we cluster these under the banner of “Art in Action.” For those of you who seek a creative dialogue, more insight, or to actively learn what makes these artists tick or what inspired the work in the first place – I encourage you to choose your dates when Art in Action is in full swing. Every single work of art on this season, whether danced, projected, played, acted, conducted or spoken reveals a sublime global effort toward the art of much-needed perspective. We look forward to seeing you again this season!

Kristy Edmunds
Executive and Artistic Director
Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA

Below are some of the upcoming highlights. Head over to our calendar or check out the Season Program Guide for a full overview of the 2016-17 Season.

8 Reasons You Need to See Taylor Mac This Weekend

Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The 20th Century Abridged is coming to Royce Hall this Saturday, March 12th at 8PM. If you haven’t already gotten your tickets (which start at $19), here are 8 reasons to do so:

1. Taylor Mac will be costumed for the gods.

Taylor Mac says that drag is wearing on the outside what you are on the inside. Judging by his outlandish costumes, that makes Mac’s insides pretty fabulous. You’ll see some wild and wonderful costumes, created by designer, collaborator, and costuming genius Machine Dazzle. You can read more about their partnership in this interview from Mac’s appearance in Santa Barbara this week. As drag legend RuPaul would say: it’s going to be an eleganza extravaganza.

Taylor Mac Costumes

2. You can turn the party before and after the show!

Our annual MOVEMENT party this year is “Identity in Motion.” Show up early and stay late with us on the Royce Terrace. There will be make-up and makeup artists from Smashbox Cosmetics, a Drag Pop-Up station, music from DJ Manifesto, a photo booth, a runway, and more. Party on, Wayne!

MOVEMENT 2016

3. No matter your age, you’ll know the songs.

It sucks when you go to a concert, but you can only sing along to that one song that plays on the radio. Not a problem here! Taylor Mac will be taking us on a ride through the 20th Century, so get ready to hear songs you know in a way you’ve never heard them before.

Here’s Taylor Mac’s take on LMFAO’s 2011 hit “Sexy and I Know It”

Sexy and I Know It

4. The local talent is going to slay.

Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles®, the first all-female Mariachi band in America, are the special guests at this event. There will also be appearances from numerous local burlesque artists, in performances choreographed by the sensational Peekaboo Pointe.

Here’s Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles with their version of  the classic “Crazy for Loving You.”

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5. You’ll know what his reviews are talking about.

Taylor Mac makes a splash wherever he goes, and the press is catching on. Frontiers has the low-down on his upcoming appearance in LA, The New York Times spilled the beans on a sensational play he wrote recently entitled Hir, and New York Magazine named him as one of the reasons New York theater is thriving.

New York Magazine

6. You’ll look really hip.

We all have one friend who seems to have the low-down on an awesome night out. Be that friend this Saturday. “Oh, Taylor Mac?” you’ll say. “He’s just this radical gender-bending playwright/drag artist/cabaret performer who’s going to deconstruct the music of the 20th Century. He’s all over New York right now. You probably haven’t heard of him.” Your Atwater Village friends will be green with envy.

7. March Madness hasn’t started yet.

The brackets get announced the next day, so don’t even trip like that’s an excuse. Peel yourself out of your lay-z-boy for a night, and come watch a different kind of spectacle. We promise: there’ll be plenty of sweat and cheering here too.

8. One City, One Pride!

The build up to this show has been so special to us. Partnering with WeHo Arts/One City One Pride, Los Angeles LGBT Center, and ONE Archives, we celebrated Drag Angeles at the West Hollywood Library last week. Now it’s our turn to host the party so come show the city your love—and your Pride!

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Taylor Mac: Identity in Motion

Identity. I am. You are.

We search for likeness, we examine for difference. We make assumptions.  The outward markers of identity, specifically gender (although there are others), lead us to expect certain things.  On the playground, in the classroom, at home, in the workplace. These expectations both subtle and obvious, are everywhere.  How girls are supposed to act. How boys are supposed to act.  This past weekend, in collaboration with our partners WeHo Arts/One City One Pride, Los Angeles LGBT Center, and ONE Archives, we celebrated Drag Angeles at the West Hollywood Library.  It was a joyful  cornucopia of identity in motion.  Big Hair. Big Heels. Big Hearts.

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Earlier this year, the Center had a conversation with the writer, Ursula K. Le Guin, who many years ago wrote a groundbreaking novel about the fluidity of gender.  She imagined a society where gender was not fixed but malleable—organically fluid. The book was considered science fiction, and in the early 1960’s when it was written, it was inconceivable that it could have been anything else.

Taylor Mac, who brings his ambitious new production to the Center this weekend,  explores the fluidity of gender in ways that are pointedly intentional, impish, and outrageous.  In Taylor’s world, the message is delivered by a man/woman bedecked and bejeweled, feathered and fantastic.  Taylor’s identity is in constant motion, and it is a wild ride.  He demands that we look at him.  And we do—we cannot look anywhere else.    tm1He is both a reflection of us and a vision of what we might be.  He unsettles our basic assumptions.  He affirms our hidden inclinations.  Drawing from traditions of musical theater, vaudeville, music hall and drag, he becomes our partner in delicious subversion.  Disruption is de rigeur.

For many in my generation, an encounter with delicious gender disruption arrived in the form of a cheaply made, campy movie about a sweet transvestite from Transylvania.  It’s not a coincidence that this was also pegged as science fiction.  I remember my first encounter with this experience, I was very young and it unsettled all of my assumptions—so much so that I saw it once a week, every week, for eight weeks, during one hot, hot, humid summer.  The movie and the play it is based on, has its roots in the same traditions that Taylor explores.  The messenger is in heels and glitter, the hero is also the heroine, two sides of the same coin, one and both, joyfully disrupting our assumptions.  They each dare to ask, why not.  

To quote the one from Transylvania: Don’t just dream it. Be it.

Don’t miss Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music this Sat, Mar 12 at Royce Hall.

Building Community with CONTRA-TIEMPO

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In a few weeks, LA’s own CONTRA-TIEMPO will premiere their newest work, Agua Furiosa.   It will be the first time they’ve appeared on the CAP season, but it’s far from our first partnership. Since 2008, the company has been an important part of the Education programs here at the Center.  From capacity crowds at our Demonstration Performances to long-term classroom residencies, they’ve helped us fulfill our mission of making the arts accessible and inspirational for young people across our city.

With CONTRA-TIEMPO, Students learn how to work together, as dancers and as classmates
With CONTRA-TIEMPO, students learn how to work together, as dancers and as classmates.

In our ongoing work with CONTRA TIEMPO we strive to give students an opportunity to not only observe a performance as audience members, but also respond to what they’ve experienced, and become active participants in the creative process.  This idea was at the heart of Design for Sharing’s Residency program which launched in 2009.  Working closely with the faculty of the about-to-open UCLA Community School, and Ana Maria Alvarez, CONTRA-TIEMPO’s dynamic Artistic Director, we developed a year-long series of in-class dance, movement, theater, creative writing and visual arts activities led by teaching artists from CONTRA-TIEMPO and Design for Sharing.

For the next five years, hundreds of 4th, 5th and 6th graders explored big ideas of community and identity, resistance and engagement with us.  How do you get a 10-year-old to tackle these huge concepts? With kindness, enthusiasm, high expectations and mutual respect.  Ana Maria and the teaching artists of CONTRA-TIEMPO are an irresistable force, drawing even the shyest kids in, and creating the space for students to share their thoughts and make themselves heard, vocally and physically.

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The foundation of this group work is the salsa rueda, a form of salsa danced in a circle with a leader calling out the steps.   The dance seems simple on the surface—the movements aren’t complicated, the caller keeps everyone on track—but a successful rueda demands that the participants, both individually and communally, choose to be fully present with their best selves. It’s a challenge that year after year, classroom after classroom, the students rise to meet.

Ana Maria also challenges students in DFS Performance Workshops, small-group activities that are part open rehearsal, part movement class, part discussion. For the high school students that participate, these programs offer a window into the process of creating art and an opportunity to respond directly to what they’ve just seen. For Ana Maria and the dancers, they offer a fresh perspective and re-energize the creative process.   It’s quite a thing to witness a room full of anxious, self-conscious teenagers being asked to think abstractly, express themselves honestly, and creating a community where everyone feels safe enough to do so.

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CONTRA-TIEMPO is dedicated to transforming the world through dance, to the growth and development of more self reflective and engaged young artists. We’ve seen first-hand how successful they are at achieving that mission.

Come see them in action in Kaufman Hall, and experience their unique kind of alchemy, turning strangers into a community, no matter how old, or how young.

You can join us in welcoming CONTRA-TIEMPO back to the Center in a new capacity. Get your tickets for Agua Furiosa here.

Center receives NEA grant

In its first 50 years, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded more than $5 billion in grants to recipients in every state and U.S. jurisdiction, the only arts funder in the nation to do so. Today, the NEA announced awards totaling more than $27.6 million in its first funding round of fiscal year 2016, including an Art Works award of $20,000 to Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA to present Phantom Limb’s Memory Rings.

The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “The arts are part of our everyday lives – no matter who you are or where you live – they have the power to transform individuals, spark economic vibrancy in communities, and transcend the boundaries across diverse sectors of society. Supporting projects like the one from CAP UCLA offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

Memory Rings is a multi-disciplinary theatrical presentation that tackles nearly 5,000 years of human and environmental change from the perspective of the Methuselah tree, the world’s oldest known living tree. This performance is a part of a greater trilogy that examines ecological and environmental threads of narrative and research. Defying categorization, the ensemble uses dance, puppetry, mask, installation, music, projections, and costume to transport the audience.  Phantom Limb is known for its work with marionette-puppetry and focus on collaborative, multi-media theatrical production and design. Co-founded in 2007 by installation artist, painter and set designer Jessica Grindstaff and composer and puppet maker Erik Sanko, Phantom Limb has been lauded for its unconventional approach to this venerable format.

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEAFall15. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to arts.gov

Who’s Afraid Of The STRAIGHT WHITE MEN?

LA has a theater problem. That should come as no surprise: LA is primarily a music and visual arts city, and it’s hard to compete with the plethora of beautiful museums and concert halls scattered across the map. Anthony Byrnes goes into greater detail about LA’s theater problem in his article for KCRW, but also into possible solutions. He highlights our recent co-presentation of Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company as an example of reaching across the void to connect the city’s theaters. We are co-presenting Lee’s play Straight White Men in collaboration with Center Theatre Group, who also co-commissioned the work.  Our director Kristy Edmunds was recently featured alongside Lee on a podcast from Center Theatre Group, with the discussion led by CTG’s associate artistic director Diane Rodriguez. If three intelligent, driven women discussing avant-garde theater, collaborative power, and exchanging silly stories sounds like something you’re into, click here to listen online.

Lee recently spoke to the LA Times about the production, describing her creative process and the birth of this production. There is always a subversive element to Lee’s work, and she continues that trajectory by tackling the responsibilities of straight white men as an Asian-American woman.

“It’s the question of, ‘What do we want straight white men to do that they’re not doing? And what happens when they do that?'” Lee told the LA Times . “It’s a very current question. Because being a straight white man is a relatively new thing, historically. For years, they got to be the default human. And now, suddenly, they’re being slapped with labels, and they hate it. So it’s sort of approaching a timeless question from a slightly different perspective.”

We were thrilled to collaborate with CTG and Young Jean Lee on co-presenting Straight White Men, and not simply because we are always happy to have our name associated with an exciting and provocative event. It’s not the first time we’ve worked with Young Jean Lee—you may remember her cabaret performance WE’RE GONNA DIE in our 2013-2014 season. Lee is doing brave, outspoken work on gender politics and personal identity, and we are proud to support it. But our true excitement stems from working alongside Lee and CTG to bring awareness of the production to an audience that might be unfamiliar with the company. LA’s theater problem isn’t insurmountable. We just all have to be willing to put the strength of the community above the desire to be number one.

Straight White Men runs at the Kirk Douglas Theater until December 20th.

To read more about our collaborations, visit http://cap.ucla.edu/artinaction/special_initatives/15_16_program_collaborations

Thoughts from the staff of CAP UCLA