Join the Emmy and Tony Award-Winning Actor as He Goes Back to School to Celebrate the Transformative Power of Arts Education

April 15, 2024– The Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge (CCLCF), is one of four local arts organizations featured in the upcoming PBS program ART HAPPENS HERE WITH JOHN LITHGOW, which premieres Fri., April 26 at 10 p.m. PT on PBS, and the PBS App.

Members of CCLCF’s Board of Directors, staff, and ceramics program attended an advanced screening of the show at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on Thursday April 11. Guests went home with a limited-edition poster which featured art from the show’s host John Lithgow, which will be on display at the Community Center.

ART HAPPENS HERE WITH JOHN LITHGOW follows the award-winning actor as he shares his passion for arts education by joining students and teachers at four Los Angeles organizations, diving into four arts disciplines: dance, ceramics, silk-screen printing and vocal jazz ensemble. Celebrating how arts education nurtures and inspires the hearts and minds of students of all ages, the one-hour PBS special follows Lithgow as he tries his hand at singing, dancing, printmaking, and pottery, working alongside and learning from young people whose lives are being transformed by art.

During the segment filmed at The Community Center, home of a nationally renowned ceramics studio, Lithgow joined teen ceramics students as he learned how to use the potter’s wheel, decorate, and fire pottery. Taught by CCLCF instructors Azzah Abdus-Shakoor and Geraldy Martinez, he proved a natural at the wheel. “John brought his natural warmth, patience, and curiosity to our studio,” said Ceramic Studio Director Nathan Murrell. “It was a thrill to have him here, and we would welcome him back anytime!” Lithgow made several pots during the filming, one of which was Raku fired as a finale to his time at the Community Center.

Growing up, Lithgow wanted to be an artist and was inspired and encouraged by his public school art teachers. As the years have passed, he’s come to see those teachers as his heroes, responsible for instilling him with confidence, curiosity, and a sense of self.

“Education involves much more than just the basic academic subjects and preparing kids for being tested and evaluated. Arts education is an anchor that provides a child emotional and social development and a sense of who they are in the world,” says Lithgow. As he makes his first pot, collaborates with a young artist on a silk-screen print, learns new dance techniques and gamely joins a group of talented jazz vocal students for a concert, Lithgow revels in the sense of discovery, creativity, and camaraderie that the arts can offer. “The arts give young people tools to move through life. They teach them discipline and hard work, patience, and civility. They give young people a sense of empathy. After all, art is about communicating with other people. Through the arts, young people find out who they are and where their imagination will lead them. It happened to me.”

Watch the show:

John Lithgow celebrates the premiere of ART HAPPENS HERE WITH JOHN LITHGOW with students from LACHSA, Self Help Graphics and the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge on April 11, 2024. Photo courtesy of PBS SoCal. CCLCF students pictured to John’s left are Solomon Levy, Walter Escott, Rosie Verma, and Grace Mandt. Photo courtesy of PBS SoCal.

CCLCF Ceramic Studio Director Nathan Murrell displayed information at the reception prior to the screening. Photo courtesy of PBS SoCal

John Lithgow working with Rosie Verma in the Ceramic Studio at CCLCF during the filming of the show. Photo courtesy of PBS SoCal

PBS Crew watches the monitor during filming at the Community Center. Photo courtesy of CCLCF.