Press Releases

California Institute of the Arts Presents CalArts’ 50th Anniversary Weekend

California Institute of the Arts Presents CalArts’ 50th Anniversary Weekend

World Music Festival at CalArts, 2019. Photo by Rafael Hernandez.

Friday, April 28 – Sunday, April 30, 2023
An Immersive, Three-Day Festival of Art, Music, Performance, Food, and Festivities

Highlights include CalArts’ annual World Music Festival, Art Open Studios, Dance and Theater Performances, immersive Happenings featuring 75+ artists, Alumnx Reunion, and more!

VALENCIA, Calif. — Founded half a century ago by Walt and Roy Disney as a multidisciplinary “community of the arts,” CalArts has attracted and educated generations of artists who have set the leading edge of contemporary practice across the performing and visual arts.

To celebrate its first 50 years of experimentation and innovation—and launch the next—CalArts invites the public to join in the party with three full days of art, music, theater, dance, performance, food, and festivities. The entire Valencia, California, campus will be transformed into a theme park of artistic exploration and experimentation, with multiple, simultaneous exhibitions, concerts, performances, and Happenings unfolding throughout the Institute’s grounds and buildings. 

Among the free public performances is the World Music Festival, an annual tradition that began soon after CalArts’ founding. With performances taking place over all three days, this year’s lineup features a full schedule of student and faculty ensembles performing music from Iran, Bali and Java (Indonesia), India, Ghana (West Africa), and Japan, plus cross-cultural fusion.  

The 50th Anniversary Weekend also features special events for alumni and the CalArts community, including a special 50th Anniversary Reunion for alums from all five decades of CalArts’ history. 

Reflecting on CalArts’ legacy, President Ravi S. Rajan noted, “Our cooperative art-making has empowered people around the globe to see their communities, their own potential, and life itself in vital new ways. ‘CalArtians’ have indeed changed the world.”

From conceptualism, feminist art and design, video and computer music in the early years, to the Disney Renaissance, Pixar Revolution, and SpongeBob; and from interdisciplinary performance and digital design to the latest directions in creative music, interactive media, hybrid arts, and immersive experience, many of the experiments and movements that have transformed the arts—and through art, our society—have their roots on CalArts’ campus. 

See below for CalArts 50th Anniversary Weekend highlights; full schedule at

Press images available here.


CalArts’ campus dining spots Steve’s Café and Tatum Coffee Lounge will also have open hours throughout the weekend. 

Beer Garden
Friday, April 28, 4 – 10 pm
Saturday, April 29, 11 am – 4 pm
Clark’s Field

Relax, refresh, and hang out at the Beer Garden, featuring an eclectic selection of food trucks complemented by taps from local breweries. The Beer Garden will also play host to several musical performances from the World Music Festival. Featured vendors include Flaming Grain, Pando Pizza Co., Mikachi Hibachi, Chicaterranean, and Andrea’s Catering.

Alumnx & Student Artisan Market
Sunday, April 30, 11 am – 3 pm
Clark’s Field

Browse and shop a selection of beautiful, bold, and bizarre art, crafts, and gifts created by CalArts artists, while supporting alumni, student creators, and small businesses.

CalArts Store Pop-Up Shop
Fri. April 28 & Sat. April 29, 10 am – 4 pm
Sun. April 30, 10 am – 1 pm
Main Entrance Balcony

Visit our merch table for all your CalArts and 50th Anniversary shirts, hats, mugs, and more! You can also visit the store online 24/7.


Invocation with Dennis Garcia of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians 
Fri. April 28, 4 pm
Clark’s Field

CalArts campus sits on the unceded ancestral lands of the Chaguayavitam, the people of Chaguayanga, whose present-day descendants are citizens of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. They have been here for millennia and will forever call this place home. Through meaningful partnership and collaboration, CalArts is committed to lifting up their stories, culture, and community. 

World Music Festival
Friday, April 28, 7:30 – 10:15 pm
Saturday, April 29, 5 – 10:15 pm
Sunday, April 30, 5 – 9 pm
The Wild Beast and Mark Taper Courtyard

The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts presents its free festival of musical traditions from around the globe, an annual tradition that began shortly after CalArts’ founding. With performances taking place over all three days, this year’s lineup features a full schedule of exceptional world musicians and music from Iran, Bali and Java (Indonesia), India, Ghana (West Africa), and Japan, as well as cross-cultural fusion. 

Friday, April 28, 8–11 pm
Saturday, April 29, 12–5 pm
Throughout campus buildings and grounds

More than 75 durational, experiential, and immersive art installations and performances unfold across campus, showcasing works in performance, dance, theater, fine art, film and video, spoken word, animation, and more. The selections are the work of more than 200 artists representing all five decades of CalArts’ history. The term “Happenings” is a nod to CalArts faculty member Allan Kaprow, who coined the term in the late 1950s.

Drag Ball Scenic Design Installation & Dress Rehearsal
Friday, April 28, 4 – 6 pm
Main Gallery

The annual, student-produced Drag Ball is a wild and wondrous tradition at CalArts. While the ball itself is for students only, Anniversary Weekend attendees are invited to take a peek at the set design and dress rehearsal for this year’s event, which celebrates the theme Queer Wrestling Entertainment. 

Bookends: A Conversation With Bobby John, Carey, and Ravi
Sat. April 29, 11 am – 1 pm
The Sharon Disney Lund Theater (Main Building)

CalArts second president (1975-1988) Robert J. “Bobby John” Fitzpatrick, current president (2017-present) Ravi Rajan, and alum Carey Lovelace (Music BFA 75) come together for a spirited conversation looking back at CalArts’ first half-century—and forward to its next. Using historical stories and events, the discussion will focus on how the ideas and values that informed CalArts’ founding and history, and the world during those times, inform the Institute’s future in our world today.

School of Art Graduate Open Studios
Sat. April 29, 2 – 6 pm
Various campus locations

Meet the artists and get a rare behind-the-scenes look into their studio practice at the annual School of Art Graduate Open Studios event featuring MFA students in CalArts’ Art, Photo & Media, Art & Technology, Integrated Media, and Graphic Design programs. Dozens of artists open their workspaces and studios to share ideas, works in progress, and experiments, offering a deep glimpse into the evolving practices of emerging new voices in contemporary art. Performance art and video screenings will be presented throughout the day. 

Experience Design and Production (XDP) Portfolio Review
Sat. April 29, 3 – 5 pm
Walt Disney Modular Theater (Main Building)

Be among the first to experience the extraordinary work of the CalArts School of Theater’s graduating student artists, designers, and technicians working in the fields of live performance, film, interactive media, installation, experience design, and themed entertainment.

Selections from the CalArts Poster Archive, 1970-2023
Open throughout the weekend
Main Building, Gallery D301 

CalArts’ poster game has long been strong, with beautiful and beguiling broadsides created to accompany events major and minor throughout its history. View a selection of these graphic marvels, along with catalogs and publicity materials from throughout the Institute’s history.


Spring Dance Concert
Friday, April 28, 7 pm
Saturday, April 29, 7 pm
The Sharon Disney Lund Theater (Main Building)

Tickets $10 ($2 students), purchase here or at the door
The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance presents its spring program featuring excerpts from Rosie Herrara's “Pity Party” and Barak Marshall's “Monger,” along with faculty member Joe Davis’ newly expanded “Ground Rules” and new work by CalArts alum Marissa Brown (MFA Dance 21), performed by CalArts’ excellent and eclectic BFA students. 

Here Be Sirens by Kate Soper
Sunday, April 30, 3 pm
Roy O. Disney Concert Hall (Main Building)

Here By Sirens (2014) is an experimental opera by Pulitzer Prize-finalist Kate Soper. Set on a Mediterranean island in the pre-archaic Greek past and the post-apocalyptic U.S. future, the opera follows three Sirens (Polyxo, Peitho, and Phaino) caught in a purgatorial state, destined to lure sailors to their deaths for eternity. Desperate to break the cycle, Polyxo tries to determine how the Sirens came to be. 

Performance Series: Everybody
Friday, April 28, 8 pm
Sat. April 29, 2 pm & 8 pm
Main Building, Room E407

Tickets $10 ($2 students), purchase here or at the door
The CalArts School of Theater presents a retelling of the anonymously written 15th-century drama EverymanEverybody is the story of how we all might face judgment when it’s time to answer the question: “How did you choose to live your life?” This comedic adaptation—with a surrealist staging and a cast who reshuffles their roles each performance—encapsulates the erratic and deceptive nature of life on Earth.


Alumnx Reunion Awards Dinner
Sat. April 29, 6:30 – 11 pm
Clark’s Field

Tickets $75 ($95 includes Sunday Farewell Brunch), must be purchased by 4/19
Purchase tickets

A not-to-be-missed Anniversary Weekend highlight open to all CalArts alums, past and present faculty and staff, and their guests. The evening, set in a custom immersive environment with alum- and student-designed lighting and sound displays, includes dinner, an awards presentation, live music, dancing, an interactive art installation, photo-op areas, and more.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Robert Fitzpatrick, CalArts president 1975-1987: Honorary Alumnx Award 
  • Timothy J. Disney, CalArts trustee emeritus 1993-2022: Honorary Alumnx Award
  • James B. Lovelace, CalArts trustee 1998-present: Honorary Alumnx Award 
  • John Henningsen (Theater MFA 15), founder, Thymele Arts Incubator: Distinguished Alumnx Award
  • Elizabeth Toonkel (Interschool MFA 12), Production Designer: Distinguished Young Alumnx Award

Anniversary Weekend Farewell Brunch
Sun. April 30, 11 am – 2 pm
Clark’s Field

Tickets $35 ($95 includes Saturday Awards Dinner), must be purchased by 4/19
Purchase tickets

All CalArtians—alums, faculty, staff, students, and their guests—are welcome to gather for mimosas, conversation, and more as we wind down the weekend. 

Anniversary Weekend Lounge
Fri. April 28, 4–9 pm
Sat. April 29, 10 am – 5 pm
Sun. April 30, 10 am – 5 pm
Walt Disney Modular Theater (MOD) lobby (Main Building)

Share your CalArts memories, remember friends and colleagues who have passed, and take a break from the weekend activities in the Alumnx Lounge.

Alumnx Meetups by School
Sat. April 29
Various locations

Catch up with friends and faculty from each of CalArts’ schools at our informal meetups! 
12:30 – 3 pm
School of Art + Chouinard (D300 & D301), Film/Video, (Beer Garden), Music (Music School entrance & balcony).
1:30 – 3 pm
Critical Studies (main lobby), Dance (G201 & G202), Music, and Theater (Butler Building 2).

Identity Group Alumnx Open House
Sat. April 29, 3 – 5 pm
Langley & Langley Patio (Main Building)

Alumnx, students, and all CalArtians are invited to celebrate the rich and diverse cultural heritage of our community. Join us in welcoming all into a supportive community where we can experience a sense of belonging and celebrate our commitment to diversity and inclusion at CalArts.

A-Block Animation Remodel Sneak Peek
Sat. April 29, 2 – 4 pm
A201, the Fish Bowl Commons (Main Building)

Alums are invited to join us for an exclusive sneak peek at the new CalArts Animation facilities, set to open to students next fall! It’s still a construction zone, so wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes. Bring your curiosity and questions about the space and we’ll bring the hard hats!

Alumnx Meetups by Decade
Sat. April 29, 3 – 5 pm
Various locations

Mix and mingle with old friends from the decade you attended CalArts! Chouinard & 1970s (main reception area), 1980s (MOD Lobby), 1990s (D300 & D301), 2000s (Butler Building 2), 2010s & 2020s (G201 & G202).


CalArts 50th Anniversary Weekend events are free and open to the public unless noted otherwise. See individual event listings for ticket information or visit the CalArts Events Calendar. Alumnx Reunion tickets at


If you have questions or require ADA accommodations, contact Alumnx & Family Engagement at or 661-255-1050.
Free parking available


Event production: HiddenLemons
Lighting: Cann Light
Sound: Studio B Music Group

Thank you to Kinetic Lighting for their sponsorship. 

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines, and cultural traditions.