Ladann Klassat
Contributing Writer

One of the most captivating characteristics of the Arts & Lectures (A&L) program at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) is the unique ability that students have to be there in real-time, feeling the emotion of the performance pumping through their veins. Performers are motivated by the reactions of the audience and their ability to share their art. In the wake of this global pandemic, it seems as if this incredible aspect was taken away from viewers in an instant.

In response to this tremendous loss, Arts & Lectures has created a new series called “Culture at a Click.” This series highlights past talks and performances, with new Q&As with different individuals on the way. 

The transition to remote for a program that is heavily reliant on real-time interaction is a task easier said than done. In an interview with The Bottom Line, Arts & Lectures Associate Director Roman Baratiak shared that “Culture at a Click” will utilize online weekly newsletters sent to all students that link to past lectures and performances, which aim to help with student engagement while still pursuing the educational mission of the program. Currently, students, faculty, and staff can sign up for the A&L mailing list to stay aware of events. 

Virtual events recently offered by Arts & Lectures include a lecture by Father Gregory Boyle titled, “The Power of Boundless Compassion,” “Behind the scenes with the Danish,” and “A day with ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara!”

As a result of moving to remote, Arts & Lectures has also started a new student ambassador program run by Lori Beth, the director of education and community engagement. The goal of this program is to keep students employed through remote work, empowering students to curate their own content through a student website. In an interview with The Bottom Line, Beth explained that the program also aims to help students develop “tangible career-specific skills” in order to ensure they are gaining apt and useful knowledge. 

The program is designed to give students “a sense of accountability and ownership over their education, giving students an opportunity for their voice and perspective to be shared with the world while professors remain the backbone for guidance,” said Beth.

Beth aims for the opportunity to facilitate student conversation across all genres of content. Beth also mentioned the idea of a future transition to online live performances and shared that there currently are teachers running student rehearsals over Zoom. 

The steps that Arts & Lectures at UCSB is taking in order to accommodate remote programming and mentorship are phenomenal. The organization is taking steps to support student employees who rely on payroll as well as keep its audience engaged and curious about the arts. Slowly but surely, “Culture at a Click” is evolving into an informative and reputable program for all that are involved.  

Sheila Tran contributed reporting to this article.

Interested in tuning in to “Culture at a Click”? Join the UCSB Arts & Lectures mailing list to receive weekly updates.