As a chemistry major also studying art, Luna Izpisua Rodriguez ’16, M.Eng. ’18, sensed that something was missing. Despite being surrounded by a wealth of Bay Area arts organizations and events, she and her friends weren’t taking advantage of them. “We didn’t know what was going on, or how to get there, or didn’t want to go alone,” she recalls.
Later, as a master’s student at the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, Izpisua Rodriguez decided to do something about it. Partnering with Berkeley Arts + Design, she assembled a graduate student team to develop a mobile app that connects Cal students to the local arts scene. The team interviewed hundreds of students about their interests and experiences to inform the app’s design.
The Arts Passport gives students access to free tickets to exhibitions, performances, and events, as well as enables them to share their experiences with friends. Participating organizations include SFMOMA, Oakland Museum of California, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, as well as the university’s art and anthropology museums and botanical garden. In addition, donors can fund opportunities for students.
While technology and art are often seen as separate schools of thought, Izpisua Rodriguez believes both are deeply rooted in exploration, play, and curiosity. Now the app is sparking others’ curiosity.
Officially launched on Cal Day 2018, the Arts Passport had 14,000 users in its first week and continues to grow in users and offerings — a testament to how technology can heighten our personal experience of art, as well as connect us to others who share a love for the arts.