There are a few constants that CalArts has come to love during our first 50 years in Valencia. Of them, change may be the most important.
After all, constant change drives the relentless creative experimentation at our core. Almost instinctively, we know that we’ll learn, transform, and push closer to truth and understanding only by continually testing—and shattering—our limits.
Now, over a half-century since California Institute of the Arts opened its doors to the world, our standing as the home for the most forward-thinking contemporary arts education hinges on how we engage with one another and the world in our next 50 years. In this one thing is certain: We can remain the leader in experimentation only if we become the standard-bearer for inclusivity, too.
Some call it radical inclusivity. I call it essential to our future. Our growth and artistic reinvention—our very ability to help the world see itself and its future—depend on how well we put our ideals around inclusivity, diversity, equity, and access into tangible action.
In practical terms, this means executing on “Shaping CalArts’ Future,” the 2020 Strategic Framework that we began developing together, and the trustees approved, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. This roadmap for our future is unambiguous: Our highest priorities for the next few years center on diversifying, connecting, and building.
To diversify, we will continue to strengthen representation of a multitude of identities and perspectives among our faculty, students, and staff; enrich our curricula with cultural competencies; and reduce our dependence on tuition as we increase other revenue streams. By leaning less on tuition, we can begin to open new paths to the CalArts experience for more of the most promising, talented artists.Our Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Cooperative has taken the lead on these and related goals. Its first action plan, now available on our website, explains the specific steps in the works and already underway.
To connect, we will amplify our historical strengths in collaboration across disciplines, finding more ways to link CalArts and CalArtians with networks and communities outside our own around the world. And to build, we are growing and improving our physical footprint. Renovations and new facilities will help bring our community of artists together for generations to come, equipping each with advanced tools to explore and fulfill their potential.
Together, these action axioms will support CalArts’ evolution into a new era—and affirm our community as an exemplary hub of insight and vision for a changed world.
As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we embrace our history to inform and reenergize the direction ahead. To be CalArts—to be a CalArtian—is to be in perpetual forward motion, to cultivate and raise up the world as we imagine it can be. Especially in this moment, there is no more important calling.
For alumnx, faculty, and staff across many generations who have brought us this far, and to our students who will help create our future, my gratitude is deep. The transformation starts with all of us. Thank you for being part of it.
Ravi S. Rajan