A feast satisfies the appetite, but a taste makes you hungry for more. That’s the idea behind Cal State Bakersfield’s sampler platter of theater scenes, visual art, music and more at the annual Taste of the Arts event on Sunday.
“It’s like a gift to the community,” said Mandy Rees, professor of theater and theater program coordinator. “We’re inviting them in to see what we have to offer, see what we’re doing and hopefully get them interested to come back and see a full production — a concert, play an art exhibition. It gets people to appreciate the arts.”
Free and family-friendly, with complimentary food and wine, the afternoon unfolds at the pace of the guests, who stroll among several artistic stations peppered throughout the Arts and Humanities vicinity of campus.
This year, Taste of the Arts will feature a scene from the Greek tragedy “Antigone,” which debuts at CSUB on Oct. 24; excerpts from “Into the Woods” and “A Little Night Music”; selections from the jazz collective and chamber singers; pottery throwing; and visual art. Especially for children, there will be a student-led activity and a performance of “Pickle Patch Bathtub,” from the Theatre for Young Audiences program. The Todd Madigan Gallery will feature an exhibition of work from the faculty and staff, and the CSUB Art Club will display student submissions.
The afternoon is sponsored in memory of Dorothy Zaninovich, who supported the arts at CSUB.
Following the late patron’s example, a group of community members has formed to bring exposure — and material support — to the School of Arts and Humanities.
“I think the arts and humanities can get short shrift in a world that is very STEM-focused,” said David Milazzo, who — ironically — owns a tech company but graduated from CSUB with a theater degree in 1997.
Milazzo formed AH Friends in 2018 with fellow arts supporters Jon Sampson, Amanda Frank, Natalie Green, Andrea Hansen, Jim Damian and Chris Benham.
The mission of AH Friends, which recently launched the website ahfriends.org, is to be “a megaphone for the university,” and help facilitate community engagement with the talented students and faculty of A&H. Taste of the Arts is the group’s “coming-out” event.
“We really want to make a splash and generate an interest,” Milazzo said. “And what better place than alongside the talented students of CSUB’s arts programs.”
Rees, for one, appreciates the enthusiasm of AH Friends to expand awareness of the exceptional students and faculty in the School of Arts and Humanities, which encompasses communications, English, history, modern languages and literature, philosophy and religious studies, interdisciplinary studies and the slate of artistic degree programs at the heart of Sunday’s showcase: art and art history, music and theater.
“Our department is music and theater,” Rees said, referring to her own field of study. “We’ve seen growth and have room to grow and would love more people to be aware of the great programming we have, and the opportunities for students. Because we are a smaller CSU in the system, our students get a lot more experience, and that can pay off later. The motivated student can come here and have a wealth of opportunities at their fingertips.”
In addition to the complimentary admission, food and wine will be available free of charge.
It is rare, Rees said, for the creative students and faculty at CSUB to get the opportunity to share their talent side by side.
“This is a venue where art, music, theater collaborate together,” she said. “We’re busy folks, so when you can come together and collaborate on this event, it’s a lot of fun.”