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Sunday, September 25, 2022

UCSD taps Moonlight's producer to lead new arts programming office – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Colleen Kollar Smith, who has spent the past five years managing Vista’s Moonlight Stage Productions, most recently as executive producer, has been hired to oversee events programming on the campus of University of California San Diego in La Jolla.
Kollar Smith has been named the inaugural executive director of the newly created Campus Performance and Events Office, led by the university’s Division of Student Affairs.
Kollar Smith’s appointment coincides with the opening of the 2,650-seat Epstein Family Amphitheater on campus this fall. In her new role, she will cultivate and oversee events through several established arts event programs and will oversee programming at the new amphitheater.
Kollar Smith recently answered some questions via email about her new job, which she started on July 25.
Q: What most appealed to you about your new job at UCSD after a long career in local theater?
A: In my professional life, my passion for the performing arts has always been equaled by a passion for education and mentorship. While I have done my best to integrate mentorship in all of my theater administrative roles, I have also balanced side gigs in order to fill both buckets. While in my position at Moonlight for the past four years, I have also been a lecturer with UC San Diego’s Department of Theatre and Dance. This new position allows me to prioritize both of these passions as we bring community together on campus and beyond while working directly with the next generation of performing arts leaders, creators and supporters.
Q: Can you explain a little more about what you’ll be doing?
A: The new Campus Performance and Events Office encompasses established and successful UC San Diego departments, programs and venues like ArtPower, the Campus Events Office (which is responsible for Sun God Festival and Triton Fest) and The Loft, as well as the new Epstein Family Amphitheater. The performing arts are a bright spot at UC San Diego, so I am excited to work closely with the finest faculty, gifted students and arts leaders on campus to amplify the great work already happening, as well as look for opportunities to engage more students, community members and partners.
Q: How many events will you be overseeing each year?

A: We are looking at all of our venues as community spaces that can be activated formally and informally, so we are defining ‘events’ in the broadest sense. At the Epstein Family Amphitheater, for example, an event will range from a yoga class in the morning to a curated season of concerts, performances, film screenings and more. ArtPower offers 30 public events and 10 student-only events annually. The Loft includes performances by up-and-coming artists as well as student-specific activities like salsa dancing, crafts and trivia night and the Campus Events Offices produces large-scale events, including Bear Gardens, Triton Fest events and Sun God Festival. All that to say, we plan to be pretty busy.
Q: How important is it to raise awareness of UCSD events with San Diegans off-campus?
A: Bringing the Chancellor’s vision of establishing UC San Diego as an accessible and welcoming arts destination to fruition, while remaining student-centered, will be a key part of my role. I can’t wait for the public to step off the trolley and onto the Stuart Collection’s commission “KAHNOP • TO TELL A STORY” by Ann Hamilton, who worked in collaboration with two Kumeyaay scholars, Alex Hunter and Eva Trujillo to create a walkway up to the amphitheater. That’s just one of the details that will remind people that art is everywhere and for everyone at UC San Diego.
Q: What can you tell me about the new Epstein Family Amphitheater?
A: As a new, state-of-the-art outdoor venue, the Epstein Family Amphitheater opens the door to expanding campus performances and events in an exciting way. The size of the stage, acoustics and technical package is going to be a draw for artists and community partners, while the capacity of 2,650 will make it feel like an intimate experience for those in the audience. Looking at the first weekend of events gives a great indication of the potential of the venue, with a San Diego Symphony concert that will feature music from UC San Diego alumna Ann Thorvaldsdottir and UC San Diego faculty Lei Liang and Rand Steiger, a Death Cab for Cutie concert, recreation activities and a community and family event to include circus arts that will culminate in a film night.
Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com.
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