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ArtPower at UC San Diego powers into 2022 with season ‘really getting underway now’

ArtPower at UC San Diego will present Ronald K. Brown and his dance company, Evidence, on Wednesday, March 2.
ArtPower at UC San Diego will present Ronald K. Brown and his dance company, Evidence, on Wednesday, March 2, at the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego.
(Christopher George / Courtesy of the Kennedy Center)

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ArtPower at UC San Diego has returned to live indoor events and is ready to continue into 2022.

The 2021-22 season will happen mainly this year, since pandemic restrictions have made indoor events largely untenable.

“We ended up doing a tiny bit of work in the fall,” said ArtPower Executive Director Jordan Peimer. “But the season’s really getting underway now.”

Among ArtPower’s range of events is Ronald K. Brown and his dance company, Evidence, which has not performed in San Diego in more than 15 years (when presented by ArtPower).

The performance, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, at the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego, will feature Brown’s “expressive, contemporary” choreography, Peimer said.

“As somebody who really documents contemporary African American life, [Brown] has been a very clear voice expressing African American lives on the dance stage for decades,” Peimer said.

Author Neil Gaiman will tell stories and answer questions for an ArtPower audience on Thursday, May 5.
Author Neil Gaiman will tell stories and answer questions for an ArtPower audience on Thursday, May 5, at San Diego’s Balboa Theatre.
(Beowulf Sheehan)

Author Neil Gaiman will tell stories and answer questions for an ArtPower audience at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 5, followed by a similar evening with humorist and author David Sedaris at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 7, both at the Balboa Theatre.

Gaimain “defies description,” Peimer said. “He is so in tune with creativity in how he molds myths into very contemporary storytelling.”

Peimer said he’s really looking forward to the conversation that Gaiman will have with the audience.

“I know he’s a very generous person when it comes to answering questions,” Peimer said. “He can show our scientists and our engineers about how to tap into something more creative and how to go below the surface and find a way to connect with symbols and to draw from something deeper and something more meaningful.”

Sedaris “is just such an amazing individual,” Peimer said. “He is one of the wittiest observers of American culture there is.”

Sedaris has appeared seven times during Peimer’s eight seasons with ArtPower.

“When David is live, one thing that’s fascinating is to see him work on stories, because he’ll stand up and he’ll read things that are finished and he will read things he’s working on,” Peimer said. “You can then go back [after a few months or years] and see how different they are between what he read onstage and what eventually appears in print.”

Sedaris also will spend hours signing books and talking to people after his events, Peimer said.

ArtPower at UC San Diego began in a different form during the university’s early years in the 1960s to attract more artistic talent to the area, Peimer said.

Its current format and name took shape in the early 2000s.

“We are specifically meant to engage the student body and then the rest of San Diego,” Peimer said.

That sets ArtPower apart from similar programs in other universities that focus on engaging the wider community first, Peimer said. “We will see students making up to 40 percent of our audiences, whereas other universities tend to peak out at around 10 percent.”

Peimer attributes much of ArtPower’s success not only to the tendency to program with the student body in mind, but also to offering UCSD students steep discounts on ticket prices.

“One thing I hear from patrons, particularly when it comes to, say, chamber music, is that they’re so impressed with the number of students who are attending [our] programs,” Peimer said.

ArtPower’s chamber music performances are “a much more approachable chamber music program,” Peimer said. “We … tend to be bringing younger artists,” who often return to San Diego with other companies.

“We are definitely the organization that introduces artists to San Diego,” he said. “It feels really nice that we can be a launchpad for so many people.”

For more information, visit artpower.ucsd.edu.

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