When Nina Posner ’17 discovered Scripps Live Arts (SLA) during her first year, it was a revelation. “I couldn’t believe booking bands and making shows happen for other people was a real thing we were allowed and encouraged to do in college,” she remembers.
SLA was founded in 2010 by Erin Coleman ’11 and Nora Bright ’11 as a way to bring local and touring musicians to The Claremont Colleges to perform; its current co-presidents are Posner and Iman Salty ’17. With a membership of around ten students, SLA hosts approximately seven performances per school year in venues across the 5Cs. But the club is about more than just bringing great live music to Scripps. Part of its mission is to provide underrepresented artists with opportunities to showcase their talents. “By underrepresented,” Posner explains, “we usually mean women artists, queer artists, and artists of color—artists that the mainstream music industry tends not to focus on.” For example, SLA recently booked Twin Oaks, a dream pop/folk band with a female lead vocalist, as well as Low Leaf, a female Filipino experimental composer and producer.
One noteworthy aspect of the club is that it does not limit itself in terms of the genres of music it brings to campus. In the past, SLA heavily booked female-fronted garage and punk bands, but as the interests of its members have broadened, so has the variety of artists it lines up. This in turn has helped elevate the visibility of a broader range of musicians and musical styles. In the past year, SLA shows have included electronic music artists Mark Redito and Astronautica, acoustic folk group Kera and the Lesbians, as well as the rock band Crying.
Posner believes that being open to a range of music styles is an important factor in keeping the club’s programs current and relevant. “Who knows what everyone will be into this time next year? That’s one of the great things about SLA—booking is so flexible and very much up to us and our tastes.”
SLA also gives Scripps students the opportunity to gain professional skills by booking musicians and organizing live events. Members learn how to contact artists of interest, negotiate compensation, and plan shows. Students are involved in every step of the process, from promoting the events to setting up and taking down equipment the day of performance.
For Posner, one of the most worthwhile parts of leading SLA is watching students develop these skills. “I love seeing people plan their first shows—booking is not really something you can teach; it’s more of a learn-as-you-go process. Seeing people get comfortable booking their own shows, as a club leader, is very rewarding.”
SLA member Lauren Cupp ’17 also finds satisfaction in putting on shows. “It doesn’t matter if there are 20 or 200 students who attend—it still feels good to know we reached out and made connections with talented local artists and made the events happen on our own!”
Although the club is only open to Scripps students, SLA often joins forces with other 5C Live Arts groups. Posner has worked to expand these collaborations “in order to bring a more diverse group of artists and spread our mission to the four other campuses.” The club’s reach also extends beyond Claremont—upcoming events are being planned with inclusive community space and Los Angeles music venue Gal Palace.
Interested in attending a Scripps Live Arts event? Check out their sponsored show on Friday, October 23, which will feature Los Angeles-based electronic duo Nguzunguzu, and join their Facebook page to learn about upcoming performances.
For more of our Scripps Experience series, click here.