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December 2020

Michael Alexander

Dear Friends:

We are entering that remarkable time of every year when typically we focus on gift buying, dinner planning, and party going. There is no question that this is going to be a challenging year for all of us as we figure out how to achieve the same goals under completely different circumstances.

Parties (both office and social) are out of the question for now. For the first time in over 20 years, my wife and I prepared Thanksgiving dinner for two instead of two dozen. As you can imagine, we are still eating turkey in these first weeks of December. I am sure this rings true for many of you as well.

Over the last months, artists and our arts industry colleagues have shown great ingenuity in coming up with new methods of connecting with audiences so that the arts can continue to provide the beauty, comfort, and understanding that is so necessary right now.

Julie Baker, executive director of Californians for the Arts, even coined the term "second responders" to refer to people who work in the arts, acknowledging the critical role of the arts in helping people recover from the stresses associated with times like these.

CaltechLive! is doing its part as well; our signature performing arts program, as well as the other series managed by Public Programming, continue to explore innovative ways to present exciting artistic programs and accessible scientific presentations.

With three Science Journeys presentations behind us now (if you missed these accessible science lectures aimed at middle- and high-school students, you can click here), our office has been astounded by the sheer number of people who have watched these talks—formerly known as Reel/Real Science lectures—online. The on-demand format seems to be working well for the science lovers across the world, whether they are students, parents, or STEM-curious individuals.

We are very interested in hearing from those of you who joined us earlier this month when CaltechLive! presented Diana Wyenn's Blood/Sugar. The production featured a live performance of the play direct from her house followed by a Q&A session with Diana and two diabetes experts. Using a three-camera "shoot" and a production designer/media director sitting several miles away mixing special effects with the pre-determined camera choices, the production was an artistic and scientific tour-de-force.

The public response has been fantastic, though since Diana's artistic intent is to present these live, we could not put this into our archive for on-demand viewing. We will share information about future presentations with Public Programming friends as we hear about them.

While we are pleased with our success so far, we are looking for feedback from all who have joined us for any of our presentations. And great news – if you missed any the first time around, many of our digital performances and lectures are still available to view online at your leisure.

Many of you are already Friends of Beckman Auditorium. You are so important to our program as your contributions help us serve school students and others with free and low-cost access to our programs. Please consider making a generous donation to the Friends as you plan your year-end gift giving. Area youth will appreciate your help!

Have a happy and safe holiday!

Michael Alexander, Director