As I write, Los Angeles is once again restored to unfettered sunshine, with birds and crickets generating our urban soundscape. What a different experience than the sound of our formerly crowded lobbies and cafes (missed), or the LAX flight path overhead (less missed), or our cars crammed side by side while riding the brake pedal on the 405 at 5mph. The sky is uncluttered and brilliantly clear. The earthquake on Earth Day helped heighten our attentiveness — as if we needed a ratcheting-up on the life-intensity dial — and high temperatures are blowing in with the Santa Ana winds. My neighbors spill out into the middle of the street in carefully timed intervals. There’s no traffic to worry about, so the kids get to rule the road on their bikes for the first time in their lives. The joggers easily give each other a wide berth. And I had no idea that there were this many people with dogs. Our face coverings are portraits in ingenuity, as are the chalk drawings on our sidewalks.
On Thursday nights Royce Hall and the Powell Library are bathed in blue light for the health care workers, first responders and essential workers keeping our communities fed, protected and functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic. #LightItBlue
CAP UCLA’s offices are located in the north-facing wedge within the basement of Royce Hall. It’s a well-lit rabbit warren of sorts, which is now empty while our team works remotely. I’m thinking about how our staff are the essential workers of a different side of holding up our communities. I want to acknowledge them all. They are always at work to expand creative nourishment, drive a response toward incredible ideas, and protect the sparks of inspiration between artists and audiences. We work alongside artists with a duty of care for our cultural and creative commons. We press our collective shoulders to the wheel in service to the values of artistry and its continuity, which is kept in motion by our allies and supporters. We work to secure resources for artists, keep connections between people vibrant, and ensure that our stage can be a sturdy hearth for artistic expression.
CAP UCLA is not a place, but is an essential function — like an estuary that holds the space between artists and audiences so that a shared meaning can emerge without being blown out to sea by the headwinds… a space for truth. And of course Royce Hall is a place, an iconic one that was built through the efforts of many to stand as a home for the experiences and ideas we make together.
We are not physically there right now, but the ghost light is shining brightly from the empty stage, and we are building the future with so many extraordinary artists that we can’t wait to share with you.
Art is essential, as is your support of those who make it, and those who hold the space for it.
Executive and Artistic Director
UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance