Best Arts Presenter
Robert Cole and Cal Performances
When Robert Cole steps down as director of Cal Performances at the end of the 2008-'09 season, he'll leave behind a 23-year legacy that has transformed UC Berkeley into the one of the most preeminent arts presenters west of the Big Apple. Shortly after taking over, Cole quickly cut through Bay Area provincialism by bringing choreographer Mark Morris to Berkeley in 1987. In addition to a host of Mark Morris Dance Company premieres, the world premiere of John Adams and June Jordon's ill-conceived collaboration, and commissions with Merce Cunningham, Peter Sellars, Twyla Tharp, Bill T. Jones, the Kronos Quartet, Robert Lepage, and Laurie Anderson, Cole has scored major coups by spotting such spectacular vocal artists as Cecilia Bartoli, and bringing them to Berkeley near the start of their international fame. Another brilliant move was alternating the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition of early music with the far more contemporary Berkeley Edge Fest, and presenting more than one hundred programs annually to school children. Bravo!