Cal Performances launches ambitious new Berkeley RADICAL

Cal Performances today announced the launch of a bold new program with ambitious aims: to cultivate public artistic literacy and create cultural access for diverse future audiences in the digital age.

The project is aptly named for a UC Berkeley-based initiative: Berkeley RADICAL. The acronym spells out its goals: Research And Development Initiative In Creativity, Arts, Learning.

Through immersive and interactive programs with visiting artists, and using innovative digital platforms to share the artistic process and research, Berkeley RADICAL addresses two fundamental issues: engaging the audiences of the future, especially the “millennial” generation; and broadly enhancing arts participation and artistic literacy.

Gustavo Dudamel, shown here conducting a rehearsal with the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra when he was last at Cal Performances in 2012, will be the first Berkeley RADICAL artist, with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. (Cal Performances video)

Cal Performances’ artists will operate both within the university and beyond it. Through creative collaborations with visiting artists and cultural organizations from all over the world, Cal Performances will commission major new works to be created on campus. Berkeley RADICAL also envisions engaging the campus’s intellectual capital and working with faculty and other researchers to create richly contextual materials for students of all ages.

And then the programs and findings will be disseminated through online platforms, fostering new conversations about the future of the performing arts for a new generation of audiences and practitioners. Toward this end, Cal Performances will be available on iTunes with a dedicated destination ( featuring Berkeley RADICAL podcasts as well as a selection of music from artists who appear here.

“Through Berkeley RADICAL, we assert that the arts are necessary, that they enhance our ability to handle change and challenges, and that they are essential to sustain and advance our society,” said Matías Tarnopolsky, executive and artistic director of Cal Performances. “If we define the arts as necessary, then artistic literacy is as essential as any other literacy, including reading, writing, and arithmetic. Because we see artistic literacy as equally the responsibility of artists, educators, arts organizations, and digital partners, Berkeley RADICAL will have components that serve each of these primary stakeholders.”

Beginning in September, several projects in each season will contribute to the Berkeley RADICAL process.

The first are conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, who will be in residence Sept. 22-26. Dudamel is considered a fitting choice since it was musical training as a youth that put him on his life path, and he is an outspoken advocate for arts accessibility. Residency activities featuring Dudamel and orchestra musicians will include symposiums, master teaching, lecture/demonstrations, a film screening, rehearsals open to Bay Area music students, concerts and the recording, framing and disseminating of these events on iTunes and other digital platforms.

“We are proud to be Cal Performances’ first Berkeley RADICAL artists,” said Dudamel. “I know from my own childhood in Venezuela that the arts can be the force and inspiration to imagine a better future. They transformed my life and have given generations of young people purpose and vision and hope.”

With artistic literacy as a primary Berkeley RADICAL objective, Cal Performances will also create age-appropriate educational programming, with materials culled from the forums, symposiums, and other events. Educational programming will be directed at Berkeley students, K–12 students and lifelong learners in the Bay Area, and for digital dissemination.

The longstanding SchoolTime program, which reaches 20,000 students per year, will be reimagined. Using teaching artists from the Bay Area, the program will be reoriented from one of exposure and observation to one that is practical and participatory. Students will focus on one piece or art form, with multiple classroom visits, hands-on practice and quality trainings.

Pilot funding to develop the concept of Berkeley RADICAL was provided by Ann and Gordon Getty.

More Berkeley RADICAL projects will be announced with the 2015/16 season on April 20.