A staff from the California State University system headquarters began arriving in town this week to prepare for the CSU Summer Arts program that will bring about 150 world-renowned guest artists to Fresno from June 27 to July 24.
With about 300 participants nationwide and from abroad, the prestigious festival will present a daily schedule that includes 15 courses and lectures as well as nearly 25 public events including performances, concerts, exhibitions and lectures on campus and at four venues in the community.
Granted by the CSU to Fresno State’s School of Arts and Humanities for the next three years, the festival is expected to benefit the local economy and provide a cultural bonanza for the San Joaquin Valley, said director Jim Spalding, who moved Tuesday from his Long Beach office to room 186 in Fresno State’s Education Building.
Spalding said the excitement is spreading in the community with the four off-campus venues ready to go. The Fresno Art Museum will be involved with an exhibition and events. The local Hispanic arts agency, Arte Americas, will participate with a Gary Soto poetry reading June 18 and creative writing classes.
A mariachi performance by Imperial de Mexico will be held in the Tower Theatre June 16. Breaking Barriers, an arts education course, will introduce its headline guest artists, San Jose Taiko, to the Japanese community June 7 on campus.
Admission to some events is free and most others range from $3 to $10.
The first public event will be June 24 with the Media Arts Festival, which is free and open to the public in the Tower District where Chowchilla native Ronald D. Moore, writer/producer of STAR TREK: The Next Generation, will be honored. A free open house will be July 9 when the public can visit and observe the program in session with tours.
“We have some top guest artists coming in to give the students a very strong program and the community some worthy programs to attend,” said Spalding, adding that a promotional campaign is under way to get the word out about the public events and to encourage enrollment.
The performance, literary, and visual arts courses, taught by about 50 master professors in intensive two-week sessions, will include such guests artists as pianist/composer Michelle Rosewoman and the ensemble, “New Yor-Oba,” in African Latino jazz; renowned computer animation specialist Ted Envangelakis in multimedia; internationally-known actress/writer Jude Narita in theatre; and jazz dancer Victor Robles, formerly with Gloria Newman Co., in dance.
Spalding said courses are still open for enrollment and scholarships are available for the 15th annual festival. Enrollment is open to anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent. Students can earn up to six college credits.
He said scholarships can still be obtained for the courses, which utilize the CSU enrollment fee structure. With help from CSU system deans, course coordinators and the Fresno community, the program has raised nearly $150,000 for student scholarships, allowing full or partial support for all students who request and qualify for assistance, Spalding said.
Last year, CSU Summer Arts spent about $111,548 on full or partial scholarships for 252 students or 78 percent of the total attendees.
Scholarships, registration, housing arrangements, marketing and publicity are just some of the activities Spalding’s full time staff of 18, which will grow to 35 when the program begins, is undertaking this week as they set up shop on campus.
University personnel have also been busy assisting with preparations setting up computers, phones and email. A large tent will be erected in mid-June near the Satellite Student Union — with a misting system to keep the temperatures down — to house some of the public events under the big top.
The education and music buildings are currently receiving new labs that were planned prior to the festival, but the summer program will be the first to utilize them, said Candace Egan, Fresno State videographer who is the festival’s on-campus coordinator. Egan is a veteran of the annual event that in previous years has been held on CSU campuses in Long Beach, Humboldt and San Luis Obispo.
In addition to Egan, former lecturer Margarita Luna-Robles is the community liaison who works with off-campus organizations and venues. Don Priest, Juan Felipe Herrera, Liza Weiland, Manuel Pena and Dan Nadaner are Fresno State professors who are on the Summer Arts faculty.
Tickets for the public events will be available after June 15 at the University Theatre Box Office, (559) 278-5109 or the Tower Theatre Box Office, 485-4050.
For additional details or a calendar of events, contact Spalding on campus at 278-7091, or Dr. Luis Costa, dean of Arts and Humanities, at 278-3056.