Managing director Rebecca Carson’s love for arts and theater stretches so far that even on her days off, she goes to shows and museums, so it’s only befitting that she is responsible for selecting the performances for Pepperdine’s Center for the Arts’ presentations. 

The center just announced the upcoming seasons’ performances, including a range of performances in dance, music and theater. Songwriter and guitarist Dave Mason’s “Traffic Jam” will be the season opener, performing on Sept. 17. 

It takes about 10 months to put a full season of performances together. Carson is currently working on the 2015-16 season. She aims to bring performances that fit into different genres and big names of people that the audience will want to see. 

“I go to a lot of live performances, see press packages and view material online,” Carson said. “It’s a long process, but it’s always an adventure. I feel lucky to get to do this type of work.” 

The Center for the Arts received a generous estate commitment last year from Malibu resident and university board member Lisa Smith Wengler. They dedicated the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts in November of last year and officially began using the new logo and name this year. 

“Lisa has made a philanthropic investment in the cultural life of Malibu and the creative spirit of Pepperdine,” Carson said. “Her gift ensures that future generations will be inspired by high-quality performances and exhibitions.” 

The Center for the Arts is nonprofit and they pay for the artists through ticket sales and contributions from the community. They have a guild membership program that supports the center’s programs while members enjoy a variety of unique benefits, including free parking and special backstage tours. 

Center for the Arts’ members support arts education activities and performances, including the popular ARTSReach program for schools that provides free performances to 10,000 schoolchildren each year. 

“One of the shows that I’m really looking forward to is ‘Schoolhouse Rock Live,’” Carson said. “Like a lot of people, I grew up watching ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ cartoons on Saturday mornings. This show really brings to life the performances and stories for children and families.” 

Ukulele phenomenon Jake Shimabukuro, jazz great Al Jarreau, country/gospel musician Collin Raye and Grammy-winning vocalist Roberta Flack are just a few of the artists set to appear at the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts at Pepperdine University during its 2014-2015 season. In Spring of 2015, 2CELLOS will be performing. Made up of Youtube stars Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, the duo creates innovative sounds that bounce from genre to genre, including classical, pop and rock. 

“It exemplifies the way the music industry works these days and how videos go viral,” Carson said. “And we are so excited to be bringing them here.” 

“One time we had Tom Petty in the audience and he went on stage and did the encore performance with Roger McGuinn,” Carson said. “That can only happen in Malibu.” 

To learn more about The Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts visit arts.pepperdine.edu

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