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Megan Kline Crockett coming into Carpenter Center

The new executive director hopes to invite students to be a part of the program more in the coming years.

Megan+Kline+Crockett+will+be+the+new+executive+director+of+the+Carpenter+Performing+Arts+Center.
Megan Kline Crockett will be the new executive director of the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

Megan Kline Crockett will be the new executive director of the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

Photo courtesy of Sean Defrene

Photo courtesy of Sean Defrene

Megan Kline Crockett will be the new executive director of the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

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Most students drive by the Carpenter Performing Arts Center and don’t give the building a second thought, if they notice it at all. Megan Kline Crockett, the new executive director of the Carpenter Center, hopes to change that.

After filling in for the previous director,  Michele Roberge last September, Crockett was appointed for the position in late November following a national search process for the position. She came in with half the season already scheduled and had to finish out the year with as little growing pains as possible.

“The biggest challenge was being offered the position and taking on the responsibility with very little transition,” Crockett said. “For me it was a little like landing in a foreign country and learning the customs and the language. It was all very new to me.”

Along with starting the job unexpectedly, Crockett came into the job in light of a controversy, after the Carpenter Center’s last director, Roberge resigned due to the cancellation of the play “N****r, Wetback, Chink.”

“The transition itself under Megan’s skillful hand went very smoothly,” School of Art Dean Cyrus Parker-Jeannette said. “It was a very political landscape and I think she did it with great finesse.”

After finishing out the season on a strong note, Crockett’s next challenge is to create and program an entire year from start to finish — this includes going to conferences to scout performers, choosing the ones that she feels speak most to the community, booking them and selling the tickets. This process isn’t entirely new to Crockett as she was the managing director for CalRep, the graduate student theater company at Cal State Long Beach, but she has had to adapt to her new role while still finding what she loves about theater in her job.

“My favorite experience is being in the theater during the performances and sitting with the audience,” Crockett said. “I just love that, I love art and that’s why I do my job. I think that live performance is essential to culture and it’s what brings people together from all different walks of life and we’re all sitting there having this kind of communal experience.”

Crockett’s first full season is set to include dance, spoken word and various music performances — hopefully with a more student-centric approach. She immediately made students one of her target audiences while bringing in student-priced tickets and introducing the “Artists in their own words” series, a free event in collaboration with the Carpenter Center and School of Art where, every Tuesday, various artists fill the auditorium and speak to students about the struggles and process of mastering their practice.

Crockett hopes to keep this momentum going in the next few seasons by creating a Cabaret Series every Friday night. The event will include dinner, drinks and headlining artists that she feels have something to offer to students in particular, along with the rest of the community.

“I have this great opportunity to bring these artists here and I don’t want ever to have students feel like they’re not a part of this,” Crockett said. “I look a lot at who are we serving in our community, who are we not reaching and how can we become accessible to all of our community and that includes our students. It’s my way of helping make sense of what you can’t make sense of and I take it very seriously.”

One of the performances booked for the upcoming season is Martha Redbone, the first Native American and African American female to headline the Carpenter Center. Crockett got the idea to book the singer after she attended the Inclusive Excellence panel hosted by President Conoley and witnessed one Native American student who spoke about her experience being marginalized on campus.

“That just really stuck with me,” said Crockett. “I thought, ‘well that’s not right.’ I want to include all of the diversity we have on campus, and it’s always in my mind when I’m thinking of programming.”

Along with her performance, Redbone is scheduled to stay an extra day at the school as part of an educational outreach program Crockett hopes to expand next season.

“I think she seems to have a really wonderful and creative and inclusive sense as she develops the season,” Parker-Jeannette said. “I really appreciate her attention to diversity.”

The Carpenter Center’s next speaker in the Cabaret Series will be Mandy Harvey from “America’s Got Talent.” Tickets will be sold for $40 without dinner and $70 with dinner and can be purchased at CarpenterArts.org or by calling the ticket office at (562) 985-7000.

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