If there’s one thing most students don’t take enough advantage of during their four-year stay at this fine institution of higher learning, it’s UCSB’s very own Arts & Lectures… not that you’d know it by looking at the sold-out performances and endless accolades A&L has boasted every season since its inception in 1969. Featuring an eclectic lineup of talent that spans the artistic spectrum and special student ticket prices that cannot be beat (especially in these rough economic times), there is no excuse for Gauchos not making the long trek all the way to Campbell Hall — History 4A lecture hall by day, home to world-class musical acts by night. You’ll want to make sure to join Arts & Lectures in celebrating its monumental 50th anniversary sometime this school year.

A&L kicked off its season last week with an anniversary party at the Arlington Theatre, and its first event is tonight’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” a hilarious and popular program broadcast weekly on National Public Radio. The irreverent show, hosted by actor Peter Sagal, features regular panelists like Paula Poundstone and Mo Rocca, and should provide a whole lot of audience interaction.


Arts & Lectures is also known for bringing colossal musical talents onto campus: In the years I’ve attended UCSB, Campbell Hall concerts have included everyone from punk poetess Patti Smith, the iconic Lou Reed, ex-Dead Kennedys member Jello Biafra and Talking Heads singer David Byrne. This October alone boasts performances by L.A.-based singer-songwriter Aimee Mann (Oct. 2) and country legend Merle Haggard (Oct. 1), and the fun doesn’t slow down from there.

Other noteworthy popular acts that will appear include Pink Martini (Sept. 30), the Carolina Chocolate Drops (Nov. 6. at Campbell Hall) and alt-rock heroes They Might Be Giants (Nov. 15 at Campbell Hall).
But, where A&L really excels is its devotion to classical, jazz and world music – music that many UCSB students otherwise would likely never be exposed to. Starting with a performance by Jazz at Lincoln Orchestra (featuring Wynton Marsalis) on Sept. 27, and including other events with sitarist Ravi Shankar (Nov. 1) and Yo Yo Ma (Dec. 7 at the Granada), A&L is the perfect place to go to expand your musical horizons.


A number of noteworthy writers have made their way across A&L venue stages, from crime writer Elmore Leonard, humorists David Sedaris and Amy Vowell, Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street), Pico Iyer and T.C. Boyle (The Tortilla Curtain). This year’s crop of literary luminaries that will be gracing the Riviera include bestselling author Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner), who will make it to Campbell Hall Sept. 29. Later on, in Spring Quarter, look for yet another appearance for Sedaris, a regular on the A&L bill.


Theater enthusiasts will find much to love this season, with an elaborate presentation of “Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre,” which runs Nov. 13 through Nov. 14 at the Granada. Elsewhere, the unusual, multimedia experience that is DV8 Physical Theater is sure to captivate the attention of even the most non-theatrically inclined when it comes to the Lobero Theater Nov. 18 through Nov. 20.


The demise of LACMA’s rather large film program was a huge arts-related news item this past summer, leading many film lovers to fear for the future of other academic, scholarly presentations of little-seen cinematic treasures. Thankfully, Arts & Lectures’ film lineup looks to be as strong as ever this year. A&L’s film programming has, in past years, been especially strong on the foreign and documentary fronts and proved itself to be a valuable resource for local cinephiles, providing a slate of films that are sorely missing from the area, outside of the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Films announced thus far include the 2009 documentary, “Food, Inc.” (Oct. 8), “Afghan Star” (Oct. 13), “13 Most Beautiful People” (Oct. 10) and “Crude” (Oct. 20). All will screen at Campbell Hall. In November, tightrope artist (and filmmaker) Philip Petit will appear at Campbell Hall in advance of a screening of his much-lauded 2008 documentary, “Man on Wire.”

As has been the case for the last couple of years, A&L will also be screening Telluride Mountainfilm, an
evening of environmentally themed programming that includes a number of short films and one feature-length film, “Surfing 50 States.”

For more information on all A&L has to offer, and to purchase event tickets, visit www.artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu.