Dear Alumnx, Families, and Friends,
In September 2019, it was my pleasure to join CalArts as the new Director of Alumnx and Family Engagement. The past few months have been a time of exploration as I learn more about what it means to be a part of the CalArts family. I have loved walking around campus, taking in what I see and hear. I’ve spent the past 13 years working in higher education, but I have never worked in a more dynamic environment.
One of the most inspiring things I’ve discovered about CalArts is its dedication to community. On bulletin boards throughout campus, I see flyers encouraging faculty, alumni, and students to join the teaching corps of the Community Arts Partnership (CAP). The program reminds me of my own childhood, when I first became exposed to the arts through the public education system. A group of string instrument teachers came to my third grade classroom, showed us the instruments and engaged throughout their performance with jokes and discussion. I remember thinking the cellist was funny and the sight of a string bass simply amazed me. So I decided at age nine, when I was all of four feet eight inches tall, to learn how to play string bass. Wisely, my string teacher advised me to start with the cello first. This started a love affair that lasted through my youth.
Coming from a single-parent family, I didn’t have the resources to join a private youth orchestra. However, my instructors taught me well. I played in school orchestras and chamber groups, including the local community college symphony beginning in middle school. Scholarships allowed me to attend summer programs, where I learned basic piano skills and explored other art forms, including dance, theater, and vocal music. I also performed at festivals throughout the Pacific Northwest. I would not be who I am today without the dedicated teachers and generous donors whose support opened the doors to these experiences.
In this edition of Alumnx HQ, you will read more about the CalArtsX benefit and the alumnx artists who have contributed their work to raise funds for CAP. Proceeds from the sales of these artworks go toward the annual support of more than 3,000 local students, many from underserved communities. We’re also reporting on this year’s sensational CalArts Weekend, which welcomed hundreds of alumnx, students, families, faculty, staff, and friends in celebration of our creative ethos.
At CalArts Weekend and other forums, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many alumnx, students, and families who have shared with me their visions for the future of CalArts. I’m also incredibly privileged to be surrounded by senior leadership, faculty, and staff colleagues who are committed to strengthening our alumnx network. The Office of Alumnx and Family Engagement, including Associate Director Karolyn Heimes, Assistant Director Sarah Melnick (MFA 16) and Program Associate Diana Cioffari-MacPhee (MFA 16), remains committed to our mission: To engage, encourage, and empower alumnx on their professional and personal paths by connecting them to the Institute and other CalArtians. We’re grateful to the nearly 1,100 alumnx who completed our recent email survey. Your feedback has provided invaluable insight into your interests, resource needs, and preferences for communications that will enable us to strengthen our programs.
To that end, we are developing an expanded engagement plan to reach out to alumnx and families near and far. We encourage you to connect with us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, where you can share your perspective as we continue to refine these plans.
Together, as alumnx, students, families, faculty, staff, and friends of the school, we will continue building a vibrant network for CalArtians and our extended CalArts community. Thank you for welcoming me to your family.