Sacramento State’s Festival of the Arts (aka FoTA) is so big, it takes the entire campus to present it. And even that’s not enough.

The annual celebration of all things arts ( returns April 5-9 with a lineup that includes jazz vocals by our own nationally recognized singers, a downtown street faire staged by students and instructors, special film screenings, a smorgasbord of modern dance, provocative discussions of art and history, and one humongous peach.

Spider (left, Sidney Raey-Gonzales) and Centipede (Pano Roditis) meet James (Angel Rodriguez) in James and the Giant Peach. (Sacramento State/Craig Koscho)

It’s just one of the many ways the University’s Arts Experience contributes to and supports Sacramento’s arts scene.

“This is a gift to ourselves and our gift to the community, to showcase the vibrancy and the innovation of everything from our Theatre and Dance program to our Philosophy program,” says College of Arts and Letters Dean Sheree Meyer.

James and the Giant Peach

Roald Dahl’s dazzling, sometimes dark children’s tale is presented live on stage at the University Theatre, April 5-16. This melding of live theater, large-scale puppets, music, and dance tells the story of a young boy who escapes his domineering aunts in a giant flying peach, aided by some insect friends who are rather large themselves.

Directed by master puppet-maker Richard Bay, Richard R. George’s adaptation of James and the Giant Peach ( season) has performances at 8 p.m. April 5-8, and 14-15; 6:30 p.m. April 12-13; and 2 p.m. April 9 and 16.

Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. performances are $8 general admission and $5 for children. All other performances are $12 general admission, $10 students and seniors, and $8 children. Tickets are available at the University Ticket Office, (916) 278-4323 or



The U-Create! street faire is always full of surprises. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)

The celebration spills off campus for the annual U-Create! street faire (, running from 5 to 9 p.m. downtown at Seventh and S streets. The street is closed off for presentations of live music, dance, art exhibits, and special surprises, with plenty to eat from Off the Grid food trucks. Specific events and exhibits will be presented at the Axis Gallery, Beatnik Studios, and Verge Center for the Arts.

“U-Create! is an amazing street faire experience using galleries and other venues downtown to showcase student and faculty collaborations,” Meyer says.

Admission to U-Create! and the galleries is free.

Jazz vocalists

During FoTA, they’ll be in concert with the University’s two other vocal jazz groups, Vox Now, and Sac State Jazz Singers. They’ll present a concert featuring an eclectic list of works by Dirty Luke, Justin Bieber, Stevie Wonder, and some jazz standards at 7 p.m. April 7 at the Capistrano Concert Hall on campus. Last year, Sac State’s jazz vocal group C-Sus Voices was named the nation’s best vocal college group by the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival and the industry’s jazz bible, Downbeat magazine.

Program director Gaw Vang Williams and the vocalists are proud to be one of the School of Music’s representatives in this year’s FoTA. “The arts are important for all of us,” Vang Williams says. “We tell our stories and create stories through them.”

Tickets are $10 general admission, $7 seniors and $5 students, available at (916) 278-4323 or

Library Gallery

This semester, the University Library Gallery presents “The Golden Age of Book Illustration,” a collection of rare, original images and books from the State Library Collection.

The illustrations were created for books in the 1800s when printing processes presented limited possibilities for illustrating books. That included hand-coloring woodcuts, engravings, and lithographs.

Rare book illustrations from the 1800s are on display at the University Library Gallery. (Sacramento State/Craig Koscho)

Exhibit pieces include samples from John James Audubon’s monumental The Birds of America (1827-38), as well as George Catlin’s renderings of Native American peoples, and Thomas Moran’s illustrations of then-remote places such as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

University Library Gallery Director Phil Hitchcock notes that the exhibit was made possible through the work of Gary Kurutz, principal librarian emeritus, Special Collections, California State Library.

“It’s very rare to see this many of these illustrations in one place,” Hitchcock says. “Anyone who comes in to see them won’t believe they were done by hand.”

The free exhibit runs through Friday, May 19. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and there will be a special lecture by Kurutz at the gallery at 3 p.m. Friday, April 14.

So much more

Other activities during FoTA include:

  • A screening of Finding Cleveland, a short film by Baldwin Chiu, a Sacramento State alumnus who is an engineer, actor, and rapper; 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, University Union, Redwood Room.
  • “The Art of Executions and the Spectacle of Empire”: A presentation by Kim Wagner from Queen Mary University of London on the weaponization of cultural knowledge; 3 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 6, Library 1001.
  • The Art History talks featuring Rachel Teagle, founding director of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, UC Davis; and Lawrence Rinder, director and chief curator at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 8, in Mendocino Hall 1005.
  • “Dance Sampler,” a contemporary dance concert featuring works by professional dance companies from the Sacramento region and the Bay Area, at 2 and 7 p.m. April 8-9, Solano Hall 1010 Dancespace; $12 admission.
  • A presentation by William T. Vollmann, acclaimed author of The Atlas and winner of a 2005 National Book Award, the PEN Center West Award, and the Whiting Award; 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 6, Library Gallery.
  • A screening of Night Will Fall, a film about the liberation of Nazi concentration camps that involved filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock and took 70 years to complete; 2 p.m. Friday, April 7, Eureka Hall 104.

Family Sunday Funday

Children and adults will have a ball at Family Sunday Funday. (Sacramento State/Craig Koscho)

FoTA concludes with Family Sunday Funday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 9 across the campus.

In just a few years, Funday has become a tradition for many families in Northern California. There are giant hamster exercise balls that give children a chance to climb in and roll around, a music petting zoo at which they can pick up a musical instrument and give it a try, cultural activities presented by Japan Day, the Italian Club, and Francophone Day, and SactoMoFo Food Trucks.


“FoTA is an opportunity to bring our students, our faculty, our staff, and alumni together with community members to share what is best about our programming,” Meyer says. “Arts and humanities speak to our similarities and to our differences, and they are the glue that holds the community together.”

For more information and a full schedule, visit Many events are free; for those requiring tickets, visit the University Ticket Office, call (916) 278-4323, or visit – Craig Koscho