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Santa Clarita: Leader of the PAC

New executive director seeks to make her mark

Posted: April 3, 2013 5:06 p.m.
Updated: April 3, 2013 5:06 p.m.

Evy Warshawski poses outside the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyon this week. Warshawski started last month as the executive director of the PAC. Signal photo by Jonathan Pobre

Evy Warshawski used to want to be on the stage.

“I’m what you would call a frustrated artist,” she said this week, cracking a wry smile. “I don’t get stage fright at all, but I tried singing, I took piano lessons, I tried the guitar.”

“When it comes to the arts, it just wasn’t my calling.”

So Warshawski took her love of the stage behind the scenes, working to plan and schedule performances instead of starring in them.

And now, after a 25-year career that has taken her from Missouri to Michigan to California, Warshawski helms all outreach efforts and events programming at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons.

Warshawski officially assumed her duties as the center’s new executive director March 14. Prior to joining COC, Warshawski worked at another college: Washington University in St. Louis.

Warshawski also was the executive and artistic director of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Sitting in the Performing Arts Center Tuesday, Warshawski said the local arts culture, as well as COC’s facilities, make it stand out from the other colleges she has worked at.

“I was super impressed about the facilities here, especially for a college of this size,” Warshawski said. “And it’s very hard to impress me.”

Prior to arriving at COC, Warshawski worked as the executive and artistic director of the 460-seat Napa Valley Opera House in Napa, Calif.

While she said she loves the Napa area, the possibility of living closer to Los Angeles and enjoying the mostly sunny weather in Santa Clarita proved to be too much of a temptation.

Besides, Warshawski said she is not a huge fan of the wine culture that permeates the Napa Valley.
“It’s always about wine up there,” she said. “It’s easy to get kind of sick of it after a while.”

Although Warshawski leapt at the opportunity to work at COC, she did so alone. While Warshawski lives on her own in an apartment in Valencia, her husband of almost 44 years, Morrie, holds down the fort at the family house in Napa.

But he comes to visit as often as he can, Warshawski said.

More than four decades of marriage began when the couple first met in high school. While Warshawski went to school in a town in Missouri, her husband lived just across the state line in Kansas.

The Warshawskis also have two daughters, who both live in Seattle and work in the film-making business.
“I guess art is just part of the family DNA,” Warshawski said.

Warshawski said she thinks one of her biggest missions at the college will instilling in as wide an audience as possible the love she has for the performing arts.

“I view my main job as giving life to the theater and keeping it vital,” she said.

This is especially important given how fine arts must compete with electronic entertainment for the attention of younger people.

“It’s important to show kids why they should attend live performances, especially now that they can look at so many of them online,” Warshawski said.

But COC provides a ripe environment for such lofty goals, Warshawski said.

“Here it feels like innovation is practiced, it’s sanctioned, it’s applauded and it’s appreciated,” Warshawski said. “And within that there is opportunity.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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