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Pepperdine welcomes Malibu families for campus festival

Ashleigh Fryer, Senior Editor
4:21 pm PST March 3, 2014

Umbrellas and rain boots amassed at Pepperdine’s Center for the Arts parking lot on Saturday, March 1, for the university’s inaugural Family Arts Festival.

The event, which originally centered around performances on a large outdoor stage, had to undergo last minute changes to accommodate heavy downpours from a late season Southern California winter storm. 

“I know California needs the rain,” said managing director for the Center for the Arts Rebecca Carson laughing. “Given the weather, we’re really pleased. Everyone is making the best of it. Us and the guests are really enjoying ourselves.” 

All six of the performances scheduled for the event were moved inside and Pepperdine students and Malibu families alike were able to enjoy the sights and sounds of pop/rock group The Fast Track, Latin American and African ensemble Masanga Marimba, pop band Mango Dreamers, the musical theatre troupe Contempo, hip hop group KAS and alternative rock band The Modern Age from the comfort of dry theater seating. 

“We tried to pick a range of groups showing a diversity of styles,” Carson said. “We were looking for groups that can engage with the audience — a participatory experience; that’s what we wanted today to be.”

Carson, who was one of the original creators of the event and the person who books the performances at the Center for the Arts every year, said the festival has been 15 months in the making, but has been an idea that she has wanted to execute for far longer than that. 

“While I was booking the season, I was trying to figure out what to do for the year,” Carson said. “So I thought, ‘What if we just used some of these great groups that are here, on campus and in Southern California, to showcase all the great things we have going on here.”

Along with musical performances, the event also featured backstage tours of Smothers Theatre, where guests were invited to preview the work put into the school’s upcoming production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” tours of Pepperdine’s Weisman Museum, art activities, face painting and book signings for children and families in the Gregg G. Juarez Courtyard and performances from the Pepperdine Improv Troupe in the Lindhurst Theatre. A flock of food trucks, offering culinary delights from tacos and grilled cheese to Maine lobster rolls and French crepes, also congregated in the Center’s parking lot for guests to enjoy in between activities.

“At the Center for the Arts, especially, the main part of our mission is to be ambassadors for Pepperdine to the community,” Carson said. “We are always looking for new ways to engage the Malibu community and bring them up here.”  

Carson hopes that events like the Family Arts Festival will help cement the university as part of the greater Malibu community. For Carson, every event is an opportunity to introduce Malibuites to new and interesting parts of the campus. 

“I’ve had a lot of directional conversations today with people — showing people where to go and how to get around,” Carson said. “That’s a good thing because it means it’s their first time here.”