Passionate student volunteers are stepping in front of CalTV’s cameras to promote their favorite Cal Performances events— gaining professional skills and developing strong friendships in the process.

UC Berkeley Student Arts Ambassadors Shine on the Small Screen: SAFTA and CalTV

Angela Zhao and Vickie Jin sit together at a table on Zellerbach Hall’s mezzanine, explaining why Cal Performances’ upcoming event— the Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra’s magnificent production of the great 19th-century story ballet La Bayadère— is a must-see. As Jin highlights the ballet’s rich history, footage of the dancers plays in the background, their legs raised in elegant arabesques. 

The video spot airing on CalTV’s Facebook page is also increasing the profile of SAFTA (Student Ambassadors For The Arts), a Cal Performances-run campus program. The group’s mission? To increase student engagement with performing arts opportunities on campus—because, as Rica Anderson, Student Engagement Manager at Cal Performances, sees it, “[the performing arts] should be as much a part of the student experience as the library.” She sees SAFTA as part of “making sure we provide a community of mentorship and learning.” 

Seniors Zhao and Jin, who have been involved in SAFTA since they were freshmen, now serve as coordinators for the program and are equally committed to its mission. 

“I really like the community of SAFTA,” says Zhao. “It’s interesting how everyone within the organization comes from such different backgrounds, and different majors.” SAFTA volunteers are brought together by a desire to “spread the joy” that comes from engaging with live performance, Jin says.  SAFTA’s outreach efforts are varied: the program releases a newsletter, plans and hosts events for students, and collaborates with other campus groups. 

One of those groups is now CalTV. “It’s fun to see the performing arts highlighted in a different medium,” said Jin. “CalTV has such a big presence on campus.” The opportunity for SAFTA members to spotlight their favorite Cal Performances artists and activities on video is both a means of sharing with their peers and a professional development opportunity—Zhao says public speaking is now added to the list of skills she has developed during her time with SAFTA. 

And both seniors have seen their efforts make an impact during their tenure. “Generally I’ve seen an increased number of people knowing what SAFTA is, and knowing about Cal Performances,” said Jin.

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