Cal Performances is a UC Berkeley-based presenting, commissioning, and producing organization for world-class music, dance and theater events. It is also, to our knowledge, home of the only named Department of Artistic Literacy in the nation.
Cal Performances, through its dedicated Artistic Literacy staff, is uniquely prepared to be the architect of a public artistic literacy framework. Spring 2015 marked the formation of our department and the launch of RadiCAL (Research and Development in Creativity, Arts, and Learning), with activities and programs guided by a commitment to artistic literacy. Read on for an overview of the K-12, undergraduate, and lifelong learning initiatives that have since been created—each one linking students and faculty to the artistic season and promoting arts-infused learning for all ages. The Cal Performances Artistic Literacy staff are:
Sabrina Klein, Directory of Artistic Literacy
Rica Anderson, Manager of Student Engagement
David McCauley, Master Dance Teaching Artist
Marilyn Stanley, Administrative Coordinator
Laura Abrams, Artist Residency and Public Engagement Manager
Serena Le, Research Associate
Our K-12 artistic literacy initiatives are designed to connect teachers and students to live performance through a comprehensive and flexible understanding of individual classroom and district needs.
Each season, we reprise several of our regularly scheduled performances as one-hour "SchoolTime" shows. The performances begin at 11 am and teachers can additionally sign up for immersive curriculum workshops and scheduled classroom visits with Master Teaching Artists. We also partner directly with local school districts to offer more tailored, comprehensive programming (see "Classroom Residencies").
Our SchoolTime schedule this spring includes:
Kronos Quartet: Fifty for the Future
Thursday, January 24
Kodo: One Earth Tour, Evolution
Monday, February 4
7 Fingers: Reversible
Monday, February 25
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Wednesday, April 10
Thursday, April 11
We regularly collaborate with local Master Teaching Artists to bring a series of residency programs to our local school districts. Over the course of several planning meetings and rehearsals, we work with our Master Teaching Artists to develop dynamic lessons and activities that empower students to explore the richness of an artistic concept at the heart of one of our SchoolTime performances. These lessons and activities then form the basis of a classroom residency.
Individual teachers can apply to host a residency, and we work with each district to offer curriculum targeted to specific grade levels. This year, for instance, we are proud to celebrate our five-year partnership with the Berkeley Unified School District at the 6th grade level.
In addition to bringing their classes to a SchoolTime performance, teachers involved in our residency program are asked to attend two planning meetings (one in the winter, one in the spring), participate in the related teacher workshop, host three classroom visits with our Master Teaching Artists, and lead two additional activities in between visits to help students stay connected to their learning.
Most teachers also make additional curricular connections to the performance through thinking, reflecting, and writing exercises; literature and social studies topics; and building classroom skills of collaboration, cooperation, and support.
This year, our partnerships with the Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond Unified School Districts have taken us from layered listening in taiko drumming to prop-based storytelling in circus arts to gesture as language in dance.
Our teacher workshops are led by local Master Teaching Artists who specialize in the techniques and disciplines of our featured SchoolTime performers.
Over the course of several planning meetings and rehearsals, we work with our Master Teaching Artists to develop dynamic lessons and activities that empower students to explore the richness of a core artistic concept. We then support our artists in sharing our curriculum directly with teachers.
Each workshop is a three-hour immersion into the creative processes behind our featured performance and trains teachers in the use of our embodied, inquiry-based, classroom-ready curriculum. While many of our participating teachers are part of our residency program, we also provide detailed workshop guides to support those wish to run the lessons themselves.
Scheduled approximately three weeks before a SchoolTime Performance, our workshops give teachers plenty of time to work with their students.
In advance of each SchoolTime performance, we develop and share an engagement guide that allows teachers to frame and lead a set of classroom activities around a core artistic concept. We aim to propose concepts that are both deeply pertinent and highly specific to the upcoming performance, and our activities are designed to promote creative thinking and problem-solving similar to that of the working artist.
While each guide includes a variety of traditional learning materials—e.g. background information on the featured performers and the art form, lists of key facts and resources, and general guidance for bringing students to a performing arts space—we seek especially to emphasize project-based learning, reflection, and frames for making personal and meaningful connections to the work of art.
Since 2013, UC Berkeley faculty in all disciplines have been invited annually to propose new courses that feature events from the Cal Performances season and support our goal of promoting artistic literacy.
Backed by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we've been able to fund up to four courses per year; each hosting department receives $18,500 to cover instructor salary and development costs, and we provide complimentary student and faculty tickets for up to five performances per course.
Bringing the arts into a college classroom should engender critical thinking, student engagement and discussion, and a sense that the arts are a vital part of a college education. We encourage our instructors to take risks, make daring connections, and explore how the live arts and their academic disciplines are mutually informed.
Though our current application cycle is now closed, please follow the links below to browse and download a copy of this year's RFP, examples of successfully funded proposals, and brief descriptions of all previously funded courses. We also invite you to explore our "Featured Courses" page for a more comprehensive overview of this work.