Category Archives: 2019-20 Season

The Arts Administrator’s Creed: 5 Guiding Principles for Your Arts Admin Career

Empowering advice from arts administrators nationwide on how to define and achieve success in your life and work.

Arts administrators work behind-the-scenes on behalf of artists and creatives everywhere, providing resources, support, and structure for their projects and practices. Often, these types of jobs combine a passion for the arts with business, management, education, programming, fundraising, or communications expertise. The work can be highly-rewarding yet also challenging in terms of budget, time, and staff constraints. To help you navigate, we’ve asked leaders in the field for their tips on how to succeed and thrive as an arts administrator…. read more at New York Foundation for the Arts’s blog.

New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) was established in 1971 to empower artists at critical stages in their creative lives. Today, the nonprofit organization’s programs and services are far-reaching and are rooted in a wealth of physical and online resources. Each year, NYFA awards $2 million in cash grants to individual visual, performing, and literary artists based in New York State. NYFA’s Fiscal Sponsorship program, one of the oldest and most reputable in the country, helps national artists and arts organizations raise and manage an average of $4 million annually. NYFA’s Learning programs, including its Artist as Entrepreneur Boot Camp and Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program, provide thousands of artists with professional development training and support. NYFA’s website,, is used by more than 1 million people and features more than 20,000 opportunities and resources available to artists in all disciplines.

Arts administrators in the five boroughs of New York City and surrounding metropolitan area are encouraged to apply to participate in NYFA’s Emerging Leaders Program 2020. Free of charge to selected participants, the initiative provides leadership training for arts administrators over nine months. The deadline to apply is February 3, 2020.

Message from the Center: Frank Bruni & Sarah Smarsh

I’m writing this in the midst of a rough week.  We compile these programs about three weeks prior to when the event actually happens, so by the time you’re reading this, much of what I’m writing about will be old newsreplaced by new news. Right now, the impeachment hearings and their attending levels of nastiness continue, another school shooting occurred in a high school just north of LA, and student journalists at Northwestern University were publicly shamed by older, more experienced journalists for making a mistake in their coverage of a campus protest. Admittedly it’s been a rough couple of years for journalists: writers and editors are a bit on edge.  But if your experience as a journalist has afforded you the privilege of being able to air your ideas in a public forum or publication, you have the responsibility to use that forum to pave the road for younger, less experienced writers. How is it that so many “experienced” journalists did not see this as a teachable moment, but instead got on their soap boxes, and ranted at students whose actions did not quite live up to their best intentions. The student editors at the Daily Northwestern made a difficult decision, but why not help them learn from it, instead of disgracing them or even worse, deterring them from trying again?  We need young, committed writers and journalists and artists and activists and documentarians – we need our young people to feel like we have their backs or they won’t step up. We desperately need them to step up.  Soon.  Now.  Not only in large urban places like LA or DC or Chicago, but in every place, in small towns and small campuses with small newspapers trying to do the right thing.

In 1958, Eleanor Roosevelt made a now famous speech at the United Nations. The occasion was the 10th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which she was a principle author and advocate. This is one of the more enduring excerpts of that speech:

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works.

Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity, without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

This is where civic engagement starts. This is where civility starts.  With small acts of teaching and conversation and compassion and listening. If these things don’t happen in our homes and communities, in our meeting halls and in our classrooms, then they don’t happen on the national stage. Regrettably, our national conversation is being driven by shouting and shaming and thoughtlessness.

Tonight we are gathered in a hall of public assembly on the campus of a public university to be part of a conversation. Royce Hall is named after the philosopher Josiah Royce, who was an  “American Idealist.”  Born in a California mining town, he believed in communities of grace, in the commitment to the shared cause of a community. Frank Bruni and Sarah Smarsh are journalists who believe in that shared cause. They believe, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, in the small places close to home. Their words remind us that these small places, these small actions are important, they are the foundation of our democracy.  These are the places that matter, and if we put our collective minds to it, they can become communities of grace.

— Meryl Friedman, Director of Education & Special Initiatives

Message from the Artists: Bill Morrison & Alex Somers

Bill Morrison

In June of 1978, hundreds of ancient film reels were discovered in a construction site in the remote Canadian town of Dawson City. Over 500 film reels were eventually restored, the only surviving copies of these films. I first heard of the Dawson City Film Find as an art student in the late 1980s. It seemed to be a fitting addendum to the more famous local history — the story of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1898, when the town of Dawson City went from being a seasonal First Nation fishing camp to  a city of 40,000 gold-crazed stampeders within a matter of months. The Dawson City that the Gold Rush stampeders imagined they were going to find was quite different from the one they finally arrived at in 1898.

That town, without a history or organic growing period of its own, was in some ways a re-imagining of other frontier towns, with their traditions of glamour and excess. Dawson City and the Klondike Gold Rush became the subject of some of the first news films ever shot, feeding a curious public through the new medium of cinema. What actually went on there and what was reported and repeated was constantly embellished and caricaturized so that the town at times resembled a stage show of larger than life characters, real and imagined. The characters who actually passed through Dawson City are like something out of a Hollywood Frontier theme park: Chief Isaac, Jack London, Fred Trump, Sid Grauman, Tex Rickard, Klondike Kate, Alexander Pantages, Philadelphia Jack O’Brien, Fatty Arbuckle, Daniel and Solomon Guggenheim, Robert Service, William Desmond Taylor. By the 1920s, stories and images of Dawson City had inspired major Hollywood movies, most notably The Gold Rush which was Charlie Chaplin’s first feature released by United Artists, and had its world premiere in this very building on July 18, 1925. Dawson always was a place situated between dreams and memories. There always has been a blurry distinction between the two, and that has also always been the domain of cinema. I tried to make a film that behaved the same way.

I was looking for a quietly epic soundtrack to help me tell this far-reaching story of silent film buried in the Northern tundra. I was led to Alex Somers from his work with the Icelandic band Sigur Rós. I showed Alex some of the films and within a few weeks he produced 25 minutes of music that became the inspiration for my first rough cut of the film. Over the course of many subsequent edits, Alex composed and produced the astounding score from his studio in Reykjavik. He brought in his brother John Somers to create the remarkable sound design, and later the composer Ricardo Romaniero to arrange and orchestrate the score so that it could be performed live. I am thrilled that Chris Rountree could be here to conduct Wild Up and Tonality tonight. And I am grateful to Kristy Edmunds and her devoted staff at CAP UCLA for letting us unearth this treasure at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel – the former United Artists theater.

— Bill Morrison

Dawson City: Frozen Time is a special film to me. A gesture of patience and surrealism in how it bends time through the ages and folds memory in on itself. Analog film is the medium: lost, then found… Music and sound design color the memories and the stories on screen collaged together to form an entirely new story. I first started making this music in the spring of 2014 and worked on it on and off for two years. When I first met Bill Morrison and he told me about the film he was making, a film made only from very old films accidentally discovered frozen in the ground in northern Canada, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. This was basically my dream project… To bring life to something so ripe with metaphor and so inherently flawed was really creatively exciting for me. So much of the music I make is about imperfection. Finding imperfection and letting it bleed out and turning that imperfection into something far more controlled and owned. It was a dream collaboration and I’m so happy to be able to perform this music for you all tonight here, together with the lovely ensemble Wild Up. Thanks for coming tonight! And thank you for listening…

— Alex Somers

Message from the Artist: Bill Frisell

…………….Bill Frisell & Julian Lage Duo

I’m not sure what to say. I can’t tell you what Julian and I will play. I don’t know and I don’t want to know. I’m not comfortable trying to put into words what goes on in the music. The last thing I want to do is pin it down. I don’t want to pick it apart. The place I want to be, where the music is REALLY happening, is that place where I DON’T know what’s happening. Mystery. I’m hoping for that. Joy. I think joy is a good word. When you listen to Julian there is joy. There is joy and light coming off of him. When we play together there is joy. There is trust. We can take chances. Help each other. He allows me to go out on a limb and find something new. I hope I can do that for him as well.

The world has gone nuts. I feel so lucky we get to go all over the place and play music. Music saves me. Everything makes sense when we’re in the music. My hope is that people listening can come along with us, get in on it, and it will become contagious. We’ve got to stick together and listen to one another. Everything is going to be ok.

— Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell: a Half Century of Genius

Pictured above: Frisell and Williams at Royce in 2015

Bill Frisell. An iconic name, and even more iconic mind.

Having guest appeared alongside Lucinda Williams (2015-16 Season), with Charles Lloyd and with Lucinda again (2016-17 Season), and performing his original score for Bill Morrison’s film “The Great Flood” (2012-13 Season) it’s safe to say this Friday, December 5th will not be Frisell’s first rodeo with us.

A leading jazz guitarist since the 80’s, Frisell hasn’t limited himself to one genre or wave of music. As part of the early downtown New York music scene with Naked City bandmates John Zorn, Fred Frith,Wayne Horvitz and Joey Baron, a composer of film scores for documentarian Bill Morrison and silent films of Buster Keaton and his forays into Americana and country music, Frisell has revolutionized what it means to be interdisciplinary. 

But I pause here to bring up the concept of “collaboration.”

A seemingly common trend among those in the arts world, collaboration is important for creative growth and networking. But Frisell takes collaboration to a whole new level. Having worked with extraordinary artists in duos, trios, quartets, and quintets, Frisell opens doors into a groundbreaking concept that is not traditionally seen: diverse and cross-genre work. 

Allow me to delve deeper: the Bill Frisell Trio is renowned for their spontaneous performances of music derived from Frisell’s entire musical repertoire on the fly, while other niche collaborations push Frisell into specific, ethereal corners of music and art. Frisell’s work on The Great Flood, alongside Bill Morrison, depicts the tragedy of the 1927 Mississippi River Flood that displaced multitudes of sharecroppers to northern cities. This work was conducted in a thoughtful manner, supplemented by a completely original score created by Frisell in place of dialogue.

The two pieces described above merely scrape the top of the deep and vast world of collaboration and focus in which Frisell has led his work in the past. Driven by improvisation and a sense of play, Frisell’s 40 years of experience adds fresh new flare to all the music he creates. 

Rock or jazz, country or blues? Which will he explore next? We are thrilled to bring back Bill Frisell to play alongside Julian Lage on the Royce Stage on Friday, December 5th!

Until then, let the wise words of Frisell inspire you in your approach art and creativity:

“ I hate labels; the problem is that if you say you’re one thing, it’s hard for people to imagine you as something else. Music is way more complicated than that. In so many ways, it feels the same now when I play as the very first time I picked up the instrument.”

Avery*Sunshine: A Name with a Story

Downtown Los Angeles. A bustling urban center where the classic rolling hills and palm trees of LA halt to make way for skyscrapers, fire escapes, and vintage theaters. One such vintage venue, The Theatre at Ace Hotel, shimmers with light in the evening dusk and the name “Avery*Sunshine” glows above the entrance, suggesting the presence of the pop/soul icon who will take on the stage this Saturday, November 23rd.

I pause to think of all the times I’ve read the names on vintage theater marquees throughout my time in L.A. On every street corner there is seemingly another niche band or artist performing “TONIGHT ONLY. SOLD OUT”… and in that moment a name I had never recognized becomes my most recent search on Spotify or Apple Music.  A new world of art opening before me.

But, the name Avery*Sunshine. Now those are 5 syllables that changed things.

Avery*Sunshine is the stage name of Denise Nicole White, a Philadelphia-born singer and performer. According to Sunshine, her parents named her after Denise Nicholas, a famous black actress. When Avery*Sunshine’s Spelman College sister got cast in The Color Purple on Broadway, leaving Sunshine to finish their record alone, her manager and writing partner Dana scored the opportunity for Sunshine to travel to Japan to promote her new song, “Stalk You.”

At that moment, Dana muttered words that would pivot the trajectory of Sunshine’s career: “You have an opportunity here, what do you want your name to be?”

Without even a moment of hesitation, “Avery Sunshine” was muttered — a combination of two of Sunshine’s true loves and favorite characters, Shug Avery from The Color Purple and Sunshine from Harlem Nights.

Just like that, Avery*Sunshine was born and her career has sky-rocketed ever since.

So when you step foot before The Theatre at Ace Hotel this Saturday evening and see the glowing letters of her name above you, I challenge you to take a moment to think about what your stage name might be. How does your stage name disclose your niche preferences and qualities?

Once you’ve done that, scurry on into the historic theater and enjoy the show!

See you there.

Message from the Artist: Andrew Dawson

I am very pleased to return to CAP UCLA with Space Panorama and Spirit of the Ring. It has been 30 years since Space Panorama was first performed in London’s West End in the aptly named Apollo Theatre, and it is wonderful to be performing this piece in the 50th Anniversary year of the actual Apollo 11 moon landing.

Spirit of the Ring, in contrast, is the full 16 hrs of Wagners epic story of greed, passion, love and death. Both performance pieces are recreations of epic stories — one of fact and the other fiction — both reach into the human soul and imagination.

A force de croire en ses rêves, l’homme en fait une réalité (By believing in his dreams, a man turns them into reality). —Hergé (author of TinTin)

Andrew Dawson

Message from the Artist: Michael Keegan-Dolan


Every winter, as the days grow short and the nights grow long and dark, thousands of migrating swans appear on the many lakes that surround the house where I used to live. Over time the presence of these swans and that darkness began to merge in my imagination with the love story and tragedy that is Swan Lake. Much of Christian culture has been reduced to a simple notion that God is good, has a white beard and lives in the light, and the devil is bad and sits in the dark. This reductive view of the nature of things can be the root of much suffering and confusion.

Darkness is the absence of light. Fundamentally it is how we know what light is. Depression, like most illness, can be a consequence of a continued state of imbalance, often connected with unresolved events from our lives. The accumulated sadness eventually immobilizes us and can make us sick. This sickness often requires a fundamental change to move it. Change, no matter how unwelcome, is an inevitable part of life; nature’s forces are constantly moving, seeking to find balance so that life can continue to endlessly unfold. When depression visits us it is asking us to change. Depression, by its nature, forces you to be still long enough to hear what you are trying to tell yourself. In the dark we can see nothing with our actual external eyes. In silence there is nothing to hear with our external ears. When our senses have nothing on which to attach, our internal world wakes up and starts to speak to us quietly. When this happens it is important to listen carefully. The darkness in any story is there to teach us something.

Don’t be afraid of the dark, it is your friend.

—Michael Keegan-Dolan

London, UK. 30.11.2017. Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Swan Lake/Loch na hEala; Picture shows: Alexander Leonhartsberger, Rachel Poirier. Photo – © Foteini Christofilopoulou.

Swan Lake (Loch na hEala) ft. Michael Keegan-Dolan!

We are excited to bring Ireland’s Teaċ Daṁsa to the Royce Stage to perform Loch na hEala (Swan Lake) under the direction of Michael Keegan-Dolan!

The name Swan Lake alone evokes sentiment among audiences, the classic tale being prolific in literature and entertainment. The ballet is a popular choice among dance companies, providing a complex narrative and character arcs for dancers. Further, many film adaptations have been produced based on Swan Lake, including films from Columbia Pictures, the Barbie franchise, and Japanese writer Hirokazu Fuse.

Given the pathos that audiences may associate with the classic tale and ballet of Swan Lake, those in attendance for Michael Keegan’s adaptation this weekend will be met with a stimulating and thought-provoking interpretation.

Keegan’s Swan Lake takes place in a small town in modern-day Ireland, providing a relatable context for the dark and comedic entities of the story to blossom into fruition. Michael Keegan-Dolan is renowned for his ability to bring Irish wit to life through unique choreography, and coupled with the new score from the Dublin-based band Slow Moving Clouds, the combination of Nordic and Irish traditional music with minimalist and experimental influences is sure to be moving.

Keegan-Dolan’s incredible career has been praised globally, and his ability to touch on political issues through dance continues to move audiences. What a treat this Saturday evening will be to all!


Message from the Center: Aaron Neville Duo

Until now, it’s been easy to separate Aaron Neville’s career into two separate but equal strains: the funky stuff he’s favored when working with his esteemed band of brothers, and the angelic balladry you associate with him when he’s punching his own time card as a solo artist.

Casual fans might admit they don’t know much — to borrow a phrase — about Neville’s musical center, but they’ve perceived a certain split in his career. An education is about to be provided, then, in the form of Apache, a solo album that makes the case for Aaron Neville as the most holistic of soul men. Its hard R&B side matches anything the Neville Brothers ever recorded for true grit, while still allowing plenty of space for a singer who’s arguably the most distinctive vocal stylist on the planet to tell it like it is.