11 Category Archives: Member Blog

Sharing news and updates for, about and by our members.

Keeping Up with Kristy Edmunds

It’s been a whirlwind around here lately, between preparing for the launch of our 2015-2016 season (subscriptions are officially on sale!) and the final performances of our 2014-2015 season, which included several epic events such as last weekend’s John Zorn Marathon and our April 25 presentation of Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament, not to mention a sold-out Gilberto Gil concert and a series of incredibly touching theater performances from Jean-Michele Richaud of Leonard Nimoy’s Vincent.

That flurry of activity is dying down and we’ll take a much-needed deep breath over the next few months as we gear up for 2015-2016. There is one whirlwind around here however,  that never quite stops—Kristy Edmunds, who is constantly on the go working with artists on upcoming projects, participating in arts-advocacy programs, speaking at conferences and events, teaching classes, working with local and national philanthropists and groups to make a case for increased giving to the arts and so much more.

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Tonight, our season wraps up with David Sedaris and tomorrow, Kristy is in Portland, a place that represents an important marker on her path as an arts curator. Twenty years ago this year, Kristy founded the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), and for the first ten of those years led the institution, also creating the lauded Time Based Art festival, a convergence of contemporary performance and visual art that annually takes over theaters and unexpected public spaces throughout Portland, activating the city with art and energy.

Today, a special exhibition opens at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, titled PICA: Celebrating 20 Years, Reflecting on the First Decade. The exhibition celebrates Kristy’s dynamic vision as the founder and inaugural curator of PICA and showcases 21 artists selected from the impressive roster of artists who exhibited, performed or were in residency at PICA during the first decade. As Kristy has said, the programming involved both tremendous risk taking and a great deal of trust.

Tomorrow, Kristy will be joined by two of the artists from that exhibition, Kristan Kennedy (currently Visual Art Curator at PICA) and Topher Sinkinson for a public conversation about the first decade of PICA. We’ll post video of it when we have it.

Later this month, PICA will ring in its anniversary by reviving its gala, the TaDaDa Ball.

This year Kristy has also been serving as is the Scholar in Residence for the Pew Center for Art & Heritage in Philadelphia and has traveled there often to consult with the organization and local artists.

Check out this recent video of her time there.

And stay tuned for more Kristy Edmunds and CAP UCLA activities. Cheers!

Loving Leonard

 

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Recently I was asked to describe what it is like to know and work with Leonard Nimoy. My answer was that he is the embodiment of the very best there is in the whole of human consciousness.

Anyone who knew him well would agree.

Knowing Leonard, and having the exceptional honor of working with him, was accompanied with an awareness that he was generating something that offered me the gift of being better than I was beforehand.

Leonard’s grounded intellect, immense talent and public kindness was woven together in all of his work. He was in possession of a distinctive joy, infectious wit and compassion. His honesty in his approach to everything was wholly generous. He was an alchemist of life at its best potential.

It is tempting to wonder if perhaps Leonard actually was from another planet. No, Leonard was utterly of this world and to imagine otherwise would be to somehow miss his extraordinary example of what it means to be so resonantly, fully and inspirationally human.

Through his works of art, works of philanthropy and advocacy, and through his legacy of profound impact, I know I will continue to learn and benefit from his spirited goodness. These will indeed live long and prosper. For so many of us the world over, our capacities have been ever expanded through his life and works and I know that this will only continue.

I don’t have a deep enough word to acknowledge his rare brilliance. Whatever that word is, it is stuck in my solar plexus and tethered there in my heart as I write this.

Thank you Leonard Nimoy.

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Kristy Edmunds and Leonard Nimoy. Photo by Spencer Davis (at top Leonard Nimoy, photo by Spencer Davis).

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Leonard Nimoy, Kristy Edmunds and Susan Bay Nimoy. Photo by Phinn Sriployrung

“Movement” 2015

The Royce Terrace turned into a dance club on Friday, February 13 to launch CAP UCLA’s first Movement event—a party to bring art enthusiasts together to celebrate the artists and performances that inspire us.

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Following the Los Angeles premiere of Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion’s “When The Wolves Came In” guests partied with the company under the disco ball and danced to beats fueled by KCRW’s Garth Trinidad.

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A special shout-out goes to new CAP UCLA member Karin Okada who got the party started. Karin was the first guest to participate in the interactive dance video. Video of revelers dancing were projected on to the Royce Hall Building, which non-dancers got to enjoy while taking advantage of snacks and the cash bar. We’re very happy to provide  CAP UCLA members complimentary drink vouchers and members’ priority line at the bar for events like this.

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And, we’re very grateful for the CAP UCLA members and collaborators who made this party possible. Thank you Sasha & Bill Anwalt, Stu Bloomberg, Fariba Ghaffari, Deborah Irmas, Diane Kessler, Renee Luskin, Ginny Mancini, Julie Miyoshi, Edie & Robert Parker, Kathleen & John Quisenberry, Anne-Marie Spataru, Jennifer Simchowitz, DeeDee Dorskind & Brad Tabach-Bank and Patty Wilson.

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Check out more photos from Movement 2015 and both Kyle Abraham performances here. There’s more to come!

Edmunds, ‘Isms’ and Ideas to Ponder

If you’ve spent much time with Kristy Edmunds, our artistic and executive director, you’ve obviously witnessed first-hand her charm and eloquence. Put simply, lady has a way with words, you know? (Yeah, you know.)

This is why she’s often asked to speak on panels and at confabs and gatherings around the country, most recently yesterday morning delivering the keynote at New York Public Theater’s annual Under the Radar Festival.

You can watch the whole speech here.

She was her usual articulate and engaging self, but she shared a story I hadn’t heard from her before.

Working daily with Kristy, we get a front row seat to her rigorous mind, attention, curious nature and there are some sentiments and phrases that come to bear often in conversations with her. These are not glib catchphrases, or simply “isms,” though. They are things she repeats often because they are deeply held core values. They are integral to how she does what she does and how she seeks to impart and explain her process and ideas to others. If you’ve spent much time with her, you’ve likely heard her talk about “persistence of vision,” “integrity of purpose,” “expanding the fence line of the familiar” and an expressed commitment to providing “a safe harbor for unsafe ideas.”

One of the themes of her speech yesterday took another compelling ideological tack—“evidence of care.”

In the aforementioned story she shared with the New York theater maker audience, she spoke about a time in her youth in the Pacific Northwest, when she was taught how to properly pluck an apple from a tree—harvesting the ripe fruit but leaving behind exactly everything the tree would need to flower again. This is a clear and lovely metaphor, I think.

Obviously, when it came to apple-plucking, there was an endgame, an outcome at hand—get the apple.

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But, also, the how of the getting the apple held as much import as the final goal. In fact, the how of it, was part of the final goal–the leaving behind an evidence of care that physically allows the tree to continue to bear fruit and thrive. I like metaphors, but I like this apple tree one in particular, because I often jokingly call Kristy’s approach to life and human contact “Johnny Appleseeding.” She plants seeds of thought and inspiration wherever she goes, so the apple imagery is especially appealing to me. (And is what inspired me to write this piece).

At any rate, this concept of evidence of care is increasingly important in the arts. So many times, a work, an idea, an artist is at a precarious place and it takes a cadre of individuals devoted to it to bring it to healthful and robust expression.

It also makes me think about something my yoga teacher often says: “How you do anything, is how you do everything.” And that’s not to say that you’re stuck because you typically do something a certain way. It means you can choose to show up for any given situation in a way that is abounding in care and intent. And your approach, your intent, can serve as template for how you choose to show up for all things. And that approach and intent not only serves the desired outcome, but serves a purpose in and of itself.

This apple-tree metaphor also makes me think of the idea that there are two ways to grow and thrive—you can seek to hive off a larger portion of any given pie/market/audience share/tree/etc for yourself alone, or you can seek to grow the pie or hearten the tree for everyone. It’s probably pretty clear which method we believe is most beneficial to a thriving arts economy and community.

And it’s community that helps us leave behind our greatest evidence of care.

We see evidence of care in our most passionate community, our members– and particularly our Board Members. Every time a CAP UCLA member shares an idea with us, shares a note with a friend about us, writes a check to us, attends a meeting, plans an event, hosts an artist in their home, attends a performance, they leave behind an evidence of care that keeps us thriving in so many ways.

I’m not sure you all know just how delighted we are to see your faces again and again at the performances. You bring yourselves to this place so often, and with such curiosity and attention, and we know we are not the only local purveyor and protector of arts that you care about or are passionate about. We know how often you are doubling up and tripling up on a performance weekend.

You are a big part of the larger footprint that we are attempting to create, deepen and leave behind in this city.  And we know you’re out there doing your own ‘Johnny Appleseeding’ on our behalf. It doesn’t go unnoticed even as we are basement-bound and furiously focused on our own specific patch of seedlings at any given moment.

It’s good to pause every now and then to think about not only what we are trying to accomplish together, each in our own particular ways, but also to appreciate how we’re all doing what we’re doing and be grateful for one another.

So as the New Year begins, we thank all our members and Board Members for the care they have already brought to this season and are looking forward to more to come.

Here also is a little more video fodder for Kristy-isms and ideas that help examine and how she does what she does and, by extension, how we all do what we do. Kristy has been serving as “Catalyst in Residence” for the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage in Philadelphia over the last year or so and participated in several conferences and events there.

Watch, listen, enjoy, share…and here’s to much much more to come.

 

The Nutcracker and Beyond: Warm Holiday Wishes and Welcome Reflections

‘Tis the season for Christmas-music concerts, holiday-themed celebrations of all colors kinds, shapes and sounds, the loudest and brightest and most pervasive of which is The Nutcracker.

For us here at Royce Hall, the Nutcracker has taken over….last week with the Debbie Allen Dance Company’s interpretation of  the classic work–The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, which has become a perennial favorite for L.A. audiences this time of year. As I type this, I can hear sets moving above me as the hall and our (extremely and also perennially hard-working) production team sets up for L.A. Ballet to converge this weekend with their annual traditional Nutcracker performances. We pause our program as these two local groups take over the hall and create some holiday cheer for arts lovers.

I don’t think I am alone as an arts lover when I say I have very warm and nostalgic feelings about The Nutcracker. It was an annual tradition for my family, and especially beloved by me, a young flute player.

All this Nutcracker activity has gotten me thinking about the arts and this season. For many young people, The Nutcracker is  likely their first professional live-performance experience, their first introduction to ballet or classical music, the doors to these art forms flung wide in the wake of the magical story and excitement of the holidays.

And for many people, perhaps that first Nutcracker experience became more than an introduction, perhaps often it served as a complete indoctrination. Perhaps many of the audiences and arts patrons who now love contemporary dance from around the world, or gleefully celebrate up and coming new music ensembles, or revel in experimental theater, perhaps they too have far-reaching memories of witnessingThe Nutcracker during a long-past holiday season.

It’s a beautiful thing to consider, this idea that once a year, we have a completely organic opportunity to expose our children, nieces, nephews, grandkids, students, etcetera to live-performance storytelling through music and movement.  And if it inspires a lifelong passion for the arts, all the better.

Of course, around here, we’re committed to the power of live performance all year long. We’re curious about artists and art makers from around the world, with different stories to tell and myriad means by which they tell them.

This hectic and celebratory time of year also is reflective. It also ’tis the season to look back at highlights that have dotted the calendar year.

There are many that spring immediately to mind for us here at CAP UCLA. Most of them involve moments in which the center has served as a bridge between our visiting artists, the work they have created, and our audiences.

Over just the last few months, we have gathered together to witness some truly incredible and compelling contemporary performance from masterful theater makers like Robert Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Mikhail Baryshnikov and  the cast and crew of Basetrack. We encountered the creative force of Ryoji Ikeda, in a sound and visual performance that thundered and crackled through Royce Hall. We celebrated the creative vision of the one-and-only Andy Warhol, through the creative vision of a cadre of truly eclectic modern musicians. We dove into the history of the graphic novel through the wit and wisdom of Art Speigelman and music of Philip Johnston. We honored a major milestone for one of the most revered dance companies in the world—Batsheva.

For each of these performances, you not only joined us to witness the art itself, but you involved yourself with us, you leaned forward to help make art in a graphic novel workshop. You lent your faces to our tribute to Andy Warhol screen tests. You attended gaga workshops and a special performance from local dance company Ate9 in honor of Batsheva. You contributed to our first fundraiser of the season and mingled with the stars of The Old Woman.  You told us stories about what freedom and service means to you, and helped us honor those who have served.  You gathered eagerly to hear Ryoji speak about his enigmatic work in a rare post-show discussion.  You joined us last spring for our Poetry Bureau before performances of The Suit and experienced art-making up close and on-the-fly. You brought your instruments and picked your brains out on the Royce Terrace before our first performance of the season.

These moments of connection are as powerful as the performance itself, because they invite us to recall and consider that we are a community. We’re not just a loosely organized gathering of people who happen to have the same taste in art. We are so much more.

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And, when we bring ourselves together with that sensibility in mind, we are actively moving our culture forward.  No experience in the world of art is really passive, even just sitting in the audience is an activation of an idea, a participation in the process. Every time you bring yourself to a performance, whether it’s an annual  holiday attendance at any of the multiple Nutcracker productions available this time of year, or dancing in the aisles of Royce Hall to our recent presentation of New Orleans great Dr. John and the Nite Trippers, you bring something unique to the moment.

We talk a lot about how the people who are on hand and on site to experience the art of performance become the keepers of it. We are the holders of the memories and the emotions that bring about further curiosity, more ideas, and more possibilities of making things that resonate.

Early in 2014 Mike Daisey joined us with a piece entitled American Utopias. He talked about several places and ways in which our culture has collectively subscribed to a certain idea, a certain way of being in the world, about how humans might just have the power to build up the world we want to live in.

He ended his performance by asking the audience to join him on the front steps of Royce Hall. It was chilly and drizzling, much like it is today. He exhorted us to dream, to create, to witness and experience.

And that is our hope for this holiday season. The greatest gift we can possibly share is our continued endeavor to build a space for artists and art lovers to dream, create, witness and experience.

Thank you for dreaming with us. There’s much more to come in the New Year.

Have a safe, happy and art-filled season!

Thanks and Thankfulness

The holidays have officially begun. This time of year can be extremely joyful, but also extremely chaotic. Hopefully your personal brand of chaos includes plenty of cheer and laughter paired with moments of peace and reflection.  Hopefully at some point today, we may all push pause on the chaos if only for a moment as we contemplate all the people and things we have to be thankful for.

There’s something so powerful around the concept that today, amid the chaos of travel and planning and cooking and hosting, there is an overwhelming desire to invest in feelings of gratitude and express thankfulness.

We at the Center have many things to be grateful for as we envelop ourselves in this collective state of thanks.

We’re grateful for the artists who bring so much of themselves to our stages, and by extension, to our community. They open our minds, break our hearts, heal our hurts and expand our joys.

We’re thankful for the audiences who battle LA traffic, absorb UCLA parking fees to get to us. We thank each one of you who has attended a performance this season. Each person who witnesses art in the making, brings a unique energy and sensibility to the entire process. And each one of us walks away from a performance imbued and entrusted with the sensation that we now are the caretakers of that fleeting moment on the stage. We are the permanent gallery and we collect within us all the artists and ideas that reach into our hearts and change us, sometimes by small measures and sometimes radically and immediately and indefinitely.

We’re especially grateful for those of you who have participated in several special moments of connection so far this season. Our deep thanks go out to the members of CAP UCLA who support our mission on an ongoing basis, for everyone who contributed to our commitment to theater productions by attending our Old Woman fundraiser earlier this month, for everyone who joined us for the pre-and post-show party for our presentation of Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films. We’ll not soon forget all your beautiful faces, which you shared so generously as part of our live screen tests.

Thank you to the members of the L.A. dance community who helped us welcome Batsheva Dance Company to Los Angeles and celebrate its staggering 50 years as an artistic institution.

We’re grateful to the staunch supporters of our Design for Sharing program which brings thousands of elementary-school kids to the UCLA campus every season. There’s nothing like witnessing a thousand 5th graders in Royce Hall, which happened recently for the incredible On Ensemble. Whenever children fill the hall this place becomes a writhing organism of excitement and energy that fuels both us and the artists.

Thank you to artists, audiences, kids, teachers, parents. Thank you to anyone who makes art, to everyone who advocates for art and artists.

Thank you for taking a pause to read this message.

Wishing you blessings today and every day and hope we will see you soon.

A Journey Through and With Ryoji Ikeda

A message from Kristy Edmunds for the evening’s program notes. 

Ryoji Ikeda: superposition. Royce Hall Nov. 7, 2014

I have had the great pleasure of working with Ryoji Ikeda over the span of a nearly 20 year arc. I first experienced his work in the context of an artist collective in Kyoto, Japan, called DumbType. I had seen their performance entitled “S/N” in 1994 at On the Boards in Seattle, Washington and was at the formative stage of my own career as a curator/artistic director.

DumbType was unique in their cross-discipline approach. They weren’t “blurring boundary lines” between art forms exactly, they were compressing many sources of artistic intelligence into a specific form. Their projects were stunning – quite literally. While we were grappling with floppy disks, dial-ups and beginning to say farewell to the marvels of our beepers and fax machines – Ryoji and his contemporaries were generating dimensional aesthetic poetry for the stage, the screens and for the gallery cubes that sought to frame their dynamic exploration.

I for one, had absolutely no idea what I was experiencing when I saw that first work – but I understood it was brilliant and it left me with a wonderment that soon converted into a recognition that I would have to galvanize something in my community in order for it to be seen. I started the Portland institute for Contemporary Art in the spring of 1995.

In 1999 we presented DumbType’s project entitled, “OR” and again in 2002 with “memorandum.” When I took up the position of Artistic Director at the Melbourne International Arts Festival, I invited Ryoji to perform and screen two of his pieces: “C4I” and “Formula” in 2005; with DumbType returning in the 2006 Melbourne Festival with “Voyage.”

By 2010, I was consulting artistic director at the Park Avenue Armory in New York and Ryoji was living in Paris, I commissioned an immersive installation entitled,  “the transfinite” which premiered in April of 2011. Below is an excerpt of my introduction to this installation

“In ‘the transfinite,’ Ryoji Ikeda takes the pursuits and structures of mathematics as one ‘material’ for his aesthetic and does so with monumental and poetic result. At the center of the work is his sonic and visual re-purposing of binary code: 0 and 1. These numbers form the string codes used to represent all information in the digital world. While few of us understand just how the intricacies of this works, we are impacted by it in every conceivable way and on a daily basis.

Ikeda is drawn to that which is at the edge of comprehensibility and human perception and he distills it into an experience we can viscerally and physically connect to. In so doing, he also offers us a tangible glimpse into the sublime purity that exists within mathematics.”

I think this continues to provide insight into his continuing explorations, now involving the language of physics, and Einstein’s theory: “superposition.”

Having with Ryoji for many years, I am interested in his return to the incorporation of live performers on the stage as a part of his immersive sonic and visual environments. So too, the conjoining of his work within the legacy of Royce Hall itself. A stage where the multiple languages and lineages of art, poetry, poetic and scholarly thought are steeped into its history located within the confines of a major research institution known worldwide for its contributions to mathematics and data.

I think it is worthy of mention, Einstein himself stood on this very same stage, a fact I cannot wait to share with Ryoji.

In both cases, and certainly the many other artists, scholars and innovators who have spanned the distance in between these two men and their ephemeral footprints – this is a place where we illuminate the existence of endless possibility.

Thank you for being here.

Kristy

Celebrating Batsheva

It’s been a whirlwind October, beautifully concluded by an extended series of performances and events in honor of Batsheva Dance Company’s 50th Anniversary celebration.

We’re very grateful to all our members for your support of and participation with this company. It is a huge undertaking to present international companies, one that requires bringing all our resources and energy to bear, weathering unexpected and uninvited surprises such as a back up at the customs dock here in Los Angeles. The Batsheva set arrived in the nick of time, but only after much rallying and hoop jumping by the company and us as the presenter.

If you attended the performance, you know just how important that set was. The final images of those beautiful beautiful dancers, perpetually climbing the back wall, facing us, driving toward us, then flinging themselves away with abandon and strength, only to march forward again….the memory of that will stay with me. It spoke to me of effort and release, of striving and accepting, of work and gratefulness.

Many thanks to Roslyn Holt Swartz for hosting an In Conversation event with Batsheva artistic director Ohad Naharin  for Artist Circle members and above. He was generous with his time and spirit and brought an acute and inspiring perspective of his craft. We’re lucky to have been able to share some time with him over the course of the presentation.

For those of you who were able to join us for our Batsheva post-show reception, thank you for helping us congratulate, receive and celebrate this extraordinary company.

It was a very special way to launch our season of dance, and it was an opportunity to lay some groundwork for our commitment to building demand for dance in this city. We will be relying on our members to help us in this effort as we seek to galvanize the Los Angeles Dance community around ideas and possibilities for dance here.

Here are some highlights of the afterparty. We’ll see more of you soon!

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Behind “Exposed”

Tonight we play host to a truly unique moment in the art of performance.”Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films” is a marriage of sound and celluloid that has been a long time in the making, and its arrival to the Royce stage tomorrow marks one of those especially gratifying moments as a curator, when the dreaming of a few coalesces into an extraordinary experience for many.

A couple of years ago I was approached by a great colleague, Ben Harrison, at the Andy Warhol Museum about co-commissioning this project (then untitled, and then just a concept). They had located a number of Warhol’s short films in their collection that were related to the “Screen Tests” he filmed quite regularly, but were of a somewhat different nature. More like a cinema portrait in a way than a “screen test” – but that is a nuance I have likely invented as a way to officially organize it in my own mind. (As one does.)

Ben had been involved in the development of the precursor to “Exposed,” which was called “13 Most Beautiful” – the cinema screen tests shot by Andy, which had Dean & Britta performing live in a concert setting. Dean Wareham and Britta composed the music and if I recall (this was 2006 I think),  were part of the creative force that conceived the idea to begin with. It toured extensively, and I saw it in Sydney years ago.

Wareham, this time around, wanted to broaden out the music collaborators, so for this project, he is both the curator/music director and also a composer/performer. I guess that is four roles rather than two!

What I loved hearing about, behind the scenes as the project started to take shape, was the restoration process of the films themselves from the conservators at the Warhol museum, and their insights about the pieces of cinema along with the film curator.

Of course getting updates on which musicians were then engaged and what they were working on and how it was taking shape was also pretty exciting.

So, here we are, two years later – restored Warhol films, a massive amount of music and artistry that has come together for a three – city engagement after so much detailing and creative time has been spent behind the scenes.  I am sure the project will go on after it is performed in the ‘homes’ of the three organizations that committed early on to support the development time it needed, which include the Center, The Andy Warhol Museum and BAM.

As with anything connected to Warhol – everyone seems to have a story about “Andy” and along the way of this, I have heard many…..real and imagined….people are compelled to tell you about “the time when…..”

I swear, Andy Warhol has had dinner and drinks with people that were not even born during the Factory years – and that will probably be the case for decades to come.

Indeed, part of the impetus behind this work is to celebrate the 20-year history of The Andy Warhol Museum, which has done much to ensure that Andy’s memory and influence continues to loom large.

My story about Andy is tied to this moment in time, to  the preservation and presentation of these incredible lost films, the talented and varied music artists who are helping bring them to life for us.

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Kristy Edmunds: Catalyst in Residence

Recently, our artistic and executive director Kristy Edmunds was named the first visiting scholar of the venerable Pew Center for Arts and Heritage in Philadelphia.

They very quickly realized what they had on their hands was more than a simple observer or caretaker, but also a person who will work tirelessly to understand a community and to affect change in it, all with a persistent focus and drive toward serving the art and artmakers whose sense of dreaming can remake the world.

She’s to be their “catalyst in residence” and we can’t think of a better term to describe her. She’s already made her first trip to the city of brotherly love in a fact-finding mission to begin to absorb the unique challenges and opportunities that exist there and that they share with our own organization and the overarching arts national and international arts community.

No small task. But, we know she’s up for it.

We’re proud that our boss will be the first to tackle this role for the Pew Center. Read more about Kristy’s ideas, her focus, her goals for this endeavor with this esteemed foundation, and how it will continue to inform our work in our own community.

Our Dreams Motivate Our Realities: A Conversation With Center Visiting Scholar Kristy Edmunds