UCLA makes a historic pick to lead its Center for the Art of Performance

A Latino man in a sport coat, T-shirt and jeans sits on a bench.
Edgar Miramontes has been named the new executive and artistic director of CAP UCLA.

An Angeleno who emigrated from Mexico at age 8, grew into a first-generation college student and climbed his way through the ranks of the city’s arts scene has been named executive and artistic director of UCLA’s acclaimed Center for the Art of Performance, making him the organization’s first leader of color since it began presenting work to the public in 1936.

The appointment of Edgar Miramontes as leader of CAP UCLA on Thursday by UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture Dean Brett Steele is the culmination of an international search that began after longtime director Kristy Edmunds left in 2021 to head the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

“I find it incredibly exciting that UCLA actually did take a chance on someone like me,” Miramontes said during a recent Zoom interview, noting that his family immigrated to the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles from Puerto Vallarta, living without legal status for a period of time.


He recalled the vibrancy of his adopted city: the mariscos truck at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Virgil Avenue; the mix of races and ethnicities, each with its own stories; the record shop his father managed in Commerce; the way arts and music permeated his life. It all created a young dancer out of him and spurred him to apply to UCLA, where he studied geography.

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Miramontes comes to CAP UCLA from the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, better known as REDCAT, where he served as deputy executive director and curator since 2019 and as associate director from 2013 to 2019. REDCAT’s interdisciplinary approach to artistic programming is in keeping with CAP UCLA’s mandate to bring an international slate of performers, musicians, writers, thinkers and artists to the stages of UCLA’s Royce Hall, the Theatre at Ace Hotel and the new UCLA Nimoy Theater (formerly the Crest Theatre), which opens in September.

“It is an immense pleasure to welcome Edgar to UCLA in a role that aligns perfectly with his deep knowledge and experience in the art of performance,” Steele wrote in an email. “Edgar’s vision, rooted in the belief that the arts serve as a bridge across cultures, beliefs, and experiences, will be a guiding force driving CAP UCLA forward.”

Miramontes brings a focus on inclusivity, diversity and experimentation to his new role, promising to use the city of Los Angeles as a launching pad for his programming ideas.

“I think the challenge is to think about how we connect with immigrants in a city that has over 200 languages spoken,” Miramontes said. “I am dreaming about commissioning new work by international artists and local artists, and also thinking about the Nimoy as a gathering place for all those communities.”

Miramontes has almost two decades of experience facilitating and programming in the arts, starting with youth programming for the city of Los Angeles, an experience that culminated with a festival in Leimert Park. He also worked for a health services organization in East Los Angeles, providing an arts education program to youth of color, while also striving to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.


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He later co-curated and co-produced the Getty-led Pacific Standard Time Festival: Live Art LA/LA, which put a spotlight on more than 200 Latin American and Latino artists and performers in exhibitions and events throughout the city. In addition, he curated and produced the annual New Original Works Festival of new performances.

Miramontes remains keenly aware of the way friends, family and colleagues lifted him up during his career. He said that when he sat for a Zoom interview for the position at CAP UCLA, he surrounded himself with Post-it notes featuring the names of people who supported him along the way.

“If I get nervous, I’ll just look to these posts and take a breath,” he recalled thinking. “And I did that. I carry that community with me.”

Collaboration is a guiding concept for Miramontes, who said he wants to find ways to introduce artists from various disciplines to one another so they might work together and carve out new paths of engagement with the university, the city and the world.

“I think of radical inclusion as a motivating value that I am leading with,” he said. “I’m imagining a brave new world of supporting artists of color and the LGBTQI+ community, which I also belong to. And just imagining all these people as creatives in a vibrant, international city.”

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