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Announcing The Aratani World Series

Announcing the Aratani World Series

The moon is full and this is the time we normally launch the World Festival of Sacred Music (WFSM). What began in 1999 with the millennium and that famous letter from His Holiness the Dalai Lama went on to become a citywide festival that captured the support and commitment of hundreds of artists and tens of thousands of audience members.

I now share with you the ideas for the next chapter of WFSM. My commitment to our city remains unchanged. My love of it’s diversity is greater than ever. It is my situation that has changed. In 2011, I retired after 37 years as a faculty member at UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures. We closed the UCLA Center for Intercultural Performance and our powerful and amazing staff went on to other things. As this harvest moon of 2014 approached I knew that without this staff I could not mount another festival and at the same time I also knew that my work was not finished. Those of you who know me also know there are mountains I am still willing and able to move.

A new manifestation of the WFSM is now announced. In partnership with the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, our own 501(c)3 — Foundation for World Arts — will sponsor and produce eight concerts under the banner “Aratani World Series.” We begin appropriately on Thanksgiving weekend and end in May 2015. This will be the first of many years of programming.

In today’s L.A. Times an Op-Ed piece Marc Dunkelman says, “We are more tolerant today than we’ve ever been, but we’re also more likely to wall ourselves off from those who hold opposing points of view. As a result, the latitude to lead lives of our choosing allows and sometimes compels us to narrow the horizons of our individual experience…. newfound tolerance hasn’t led to a broader diversity in our everyday lives as much as it’s touched off a stampede towards balkanization…. Empowered to deviate from any central norm by the erosion of prejudice, we have sought comfortable, familiar niches.”

I have observed this first hand, both on my campus and in the city. The goal of the Aratani World Series is not simply to program Indian theater for Indians, Brazilian dance for Brazilians, rather, like the World Festival of Sacred Music, our mission is to encourage the public to reach out, be more curious and eager for exposure to the artistic and imaginative world of others. We are reaching out to people who will enjoy sitting with a community they may not know, to hear languages spoken from the stage or in the house that they do not understand, and in the end feel a resonance with people and places that are both near and far. We ask once again that the public trust our curatorial hand and come to the theater not knowing entirely what you will experience but know this experience will offer wonders and insight into our city and the world.

Being an Emeritus Professor has its advantages, working from home and fully volunteering my time to this series are two of them. I have found a great partner in Leslie Ito and the staff of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. Like all the venues that have partnered with us in the past, they want to open their doors to the diversity of our city and facilitate a cultural dialogue that will add to our appreciation and understanding of other cultures. We begin without grant funds or underwriting, rather we depend on the help of our constituents to support us, get the word out, come to the concerts, and carry away our artists’ message into their day to day lives.

This Post Has 17 Comments
  1. Delighted to see this in my inbox, which is full of campaign related messages (I am Kevin’s campaign manager & Lawn Sign Fairy again, for the third time, and treasurer, for the first.) I hope this message can be routed to Judy — I’d love to be in touch when the madness of election frenzy is over….

    1. Hi Genise, so great to hear from you with memories of when your gifts were brought to bear on my projects. I am sure Kevin will win, and look forward to connecting once again. All my best, Judy

    1. Hi Tom, I was so happy to hear from you- we start again from the beginning and with support of people like you I know we will reach the people who appreciate and understand the value of this effort. You are the one who began our journey of discovery on KCRW and it means so much to have your support. In graditude, Judy

  2. Hello Judy
    Will you still need volunteers for the events? I so enjoyed volunteering in the past

    Jennifer Zapp

  3. Bless you Judy,
    Congratulations to you and your collegues for giving us AratanI World Series. I met you by chance years ago at the Farmers Market at Santa Monica Airport. You were with a party eating lunch . Not knowing who you were, I mentioned an incredible experience I had at a Gamelan concert at the Los Angeles Arboretum. A member of your group said that you produced that very even. You introduced yourself. After that I would see you at various incredible Sacred Music events. Thank you so much for continuing to share your glorious efforts.
    All the best wishes,
    C. Hollingsworth

    1. I remember you too! the dancers that are coming to the ARATANI WORLD FESTIVAL carry the torch of those dancers we brought in the 1990 LA Festival. I hope you can join us…. while not on the scale of LA Festival, the heart is the same. thanks for reaching out. Judy

  4. Dear Judy – What a wonderful way to continue the vision and emotion of the WFSM. I feel blessed to have worked with you on the first festival back in 1999 and look forward to helping out again in any way that I can. I will be in touch!

    1. Dear Kelly, those were the days- yes???? I look back at what we accomplished and am filled with wonder at our accomplishments. We had only intended to the festival for the millenium, and here I am in 2014 realizing the work is never really finished. Thank you for your response. Like the 1999 festival we start this project with ’empty hands’…. knowing that it will all work with the support of like minded people. Miss you, J

  5. What a beautiful series, I hope we’ll be in LA during some of the events! You are such an inspiration, Judy. Thank you for all you do for the world!
    with love and admiration,

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