It’s Welcome Week on campus. Freshmen are moving in to their dorms, professors are returning to their offices, and the marching band is rehearsing every afternoon. In just a few short days, UCLA classes will be back session, and Design for Sharing’s free K-12 programs will be officially underway, too.
Down here in the Center’s offices in the basement of Royce Hall, we’ve spent the last month getting ready to welcome a brand-new crop of students from public schools across our city. It’s a thrill to watch our inbox fill up with RSVPs for our free Demonstration Performances, and hear what teachers and kids are most excited about.
There is a lot of great art to look forward to this year, as always, but this fall we’re also looking back on how far we’ve come. For the last 45 years, Design for Sharing has brought a world of creativity and inspiration to public school students in Los Angeles. More than half a million students have experienced performances in Royce Hall or participated in a hands-on arts activity with DFS.
Check out this photo, from one of our early years (circa 1973, guessing from the hairdos).
The striking thing about this shot is the familiarity of it, the timelessness. It would be easy to recreate this scene out on the quad before a Demonstration Performance, even now. The very first season of Demonstration Performances featured chamber music, ballet and Shakespeare. It was just five performances, and brought around 3,000 students to Royce Hall.
Today, Design for Sharing performances and workshops attract close to 15,000 students a year for a diverse line up of world music, contemporary dance, and innovative theater.
We present artists and art forms that were practically unimagined 45 years ago. We’ve seen trails blazed and envelopes pushed, and we’ve shared it all with eager young minds. We’ve been surprised, an often moved, by how students connect with ideas that are not just new to them, but new to everyone. And still, there’s a sense of continuity. The smiles, the uncertainty, the excitement and curiosity—we still see all of that at every event we host (and the UCLA students still lounge under the portico arches).
It’s still a little bit magical.
Over the years, we’ve had to evolve, not just artistically but logistically, too. We’re not just providing free performances any more: we’re subsidizing buses. Transportation seems like such a boring, utilitarian thing when we’re talking about sharing inspiring art, but for most of our schools, it’s actually the least attainable item on their special activity budget. So, it’s become a larger and larger portion of our budget. We’re aiming to offer 200 free buses this season!
You can help us celebrate our 45th year, and help us expand our legacy of generosity by adding $4.50 to any CAP UCLA ticket purchase. There is an automatic option to make this gift when you buy CAP UCLA performance tickets online, or you can add it to any phone order placed at the UCLA Central Ticket office.
The cost of a DFS Demonstration Performance in Royce Hall—where kids often take their first seats in a professional performance space, have their first interaction with professional artists and get their first glimpse at a college campus—averages less than $20 per student, including bus transportation to UCLA.
A lot has changed since our visionary founders started us on this journey back in 1969, but our core mission remains: we continue to make world-class performances available to young audiences; we continue to welcome thousands of students to our beautiful campus each year, and we will always be excited when a bus load of kids get to see something wonderful and new.
Our next year of sharing the arts begins on September 25, with DakhaBrakha. More than a thousand students will experience this group from the Ukraine. They’ll see instruments and hear sounds and songs they’ve never encountered before.
You can check out the rest of our events here. We hope you’ll join us–everyone’s welcome.