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CAP UCLA opens the doors to the new UCLA Nimoy Theater

After a multi-year and multimillion dollar revitalization and reimagining of the historic Crest Theatre, the new performing arts space welcomes audiences and artists.

In a boisterous finale to a series of "firsts" for The Nimoy, the first group of K-12 students from across Los Angeles arrived on the scene Friday, Sept. 29, to experience the charismatic and cross-cultural artistic practice of Ethiocolor, thanks to CAP UCLA's long-running educational program Design for Sharing.

The band invited these young learners to dance with them on the stage, creating a powerful shared experience and positive memory about the importance of joyful movement and music in our lives.

Nearly 3,000 K-12 students from schools all around our city will experience the arts at The Nimoy this year through the Design for Sharing program.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, CAP UCLA kicked off opening night at The Nimoy with a special pre-show reception honoring the vision and generosity of Susan Bay Nimoy, who brought with her a newspaper clipping about “Three Men and a Baby,” which premiered at what was then known as the Crest Theatre. The comedy was directed by her husband Leonard Nimoy and was one of his most successful films.

 Zachary Quinto, who took on the role of Spock for the 2009 “Star Trek” film and sequels, was on hand to share memories of Leonard and to advocate for the importance of the performing arts. He led the group in a toast to Susan.

 CAP UCLA artistic and executive director Edgar Miramontes and Brett Steele, dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA, presented Susan Nimoy with a special replica of the new theater.

Later that night, J. Ivy, (the first artist to win a Grammy in the new spoken word category) and his high-energy ensemble including Grammy-winning singer Tarrey Torae officially launched The Nimoy's inaugural season as the organization’s “poet in residence” for the year. Ivy will return to the program for three more "Poetry Uncut" events on the calendar, starting Feb. 3.

All above photos by Bailey Holiver.

On Sunday, Sept. 17, the UCLA Nimoy Theater held its ribbon-cutting ceremony and opened its doors to the public for the first time. The Nimoy expands the footprint of UCLA and the arts deeper into the Westwood neighborhood and will play host to more than 50 performances over the school year.

(Image by David Esquivel. Pictured L-R: Kristy Edmunds, former executive and artistic director of CAP UCLA, Darnell Hunt, UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Susan Bay Nimoy, Edgar Miramontes, current artistic and executive director of CAP UCLA, Brett Steele, dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, and Lindsey Horvath, member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors).

On the celebratory afternoon, the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band processed into the venue, leading invited guests and dignitaries inside the renovated, state-of-the-art theater.

Virginia Carmelo, a Tongva elder, took the stage to share the indigenous history of Los Angeles.

After Carmelo’s remarks, UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture Dean Brett Steele, UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance (CAP UCLA) Executive and Artistic Director Edgar Miramontes, LA County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, and project champion and major donor Susan Bay Nimoy took the stage. Together they acknowledged the extraordinary work of all involved and The Nimoy's limitless potential as a new home for local, national, and international artists.

During the ceremony, CAP UCLA received both a scroll of commendation and proclamation from Supervisor Horvath and Westwood Field Deputy Patty Macias, respectively.

(Image by Jessica Wolf. Pictured L-R Fred Frumberg, CAP UCLA deputy director and program manager Edgar Miramontes, Meryl Friedman, CAP UCLA director of education and special initiatives).

After the ribbon cutting, Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Luciana Souza took the stage and performed an intimate set.

(Image by David Esquivel)

Outside the venue, DJ Sizzle Fantastic spun records for the public while they enjoyed offerings from local businesses Fresh Corn Grill, Emporium Thai, and Saffron and Rose Ice Cream.

The New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band then returned to lead the public inside, where they could tour the venue and partake in coffee and refreshments from Espressoteric. 

Once seated, LA’s own Las Cafeteras performed a high energy set that showcased their unique fusion of traditional Mexican music with modern influences.

(Images by David Esquivel)

As guests exited the venue, they snapped photos under the timeless quote from Leonard Nimoy's iconic “Star Trek” character, Spock —  “Live long and prosper” — which adorns the theater’s entrance.

(Image by David Esquivel. Pictured L-R Meryl Friedman, Kristy Edmunds, Susan Bay Nimoy, Darnell Hunt, Brett Steele, Edgar Miramontes, Fred Frumberg).


CAP UCLA’s newest home for the performing arts is named in honor of artist, actor, director and philanthropist Leonard Nimoy. UCLA’s purchase of the long-dormant Crest Theatre was made possible by a major gift from his widow, actor, writer and director Susan Bay Nimoy. Philanthropy has been a cornerstone of Susan and Leonard Nimoy’s life's work, and the inauguration of The Nimoy marks a significant milestone in Susan and Leonard Nimoy's enduring commitment to supporting and championing the arts. The Nimoys have a special connection to the venue – the film "Three Men and a Baby," directed by Leonard Nimoy, was the reopening attraction following the Disney-led renovation in the late 1980s. Susan and Leonard Nimoy’s collective philanthropic efforts support several major arts institutions including MOCA, Griffith Observatory, home of the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon auditorium, and the Sundance Film Festival. Susan is a longtime supporter of CAP UCLA, as well as the Hammer Museum, home of the Bay-Nimoy Studio. Additionally, Susan and Leonard Nimoy made a significant contribution toward the establishment of the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre at Symphony Space (New York). Other major donors of The Nimoy include the Whitney Family Charity Trust, The Ahmanson Foundation, the McGrath Abrams Family Foundation, the Mellon Foundation and an anonymous donor. The $23 million campaign for the venue has raised $18.6 million to date.

The Nimoy is a reimagining of the historic Crest Theatre, which was acquired by UCLA in 2018. Renovated and transformed into a flexible 299-seat performing arts space, this versatile and intimately scaled venue will immerse audiences in a profoundly engaging experience of live performance while providing contemporary performing artists from Los Angeles and around the world expanded opportunities to develop and present new work. It is a true home for artists representing a diversity of voices, viewpoints, ideas and creative expressions in music, dance, theater, literary arts, digital media arts and collaborative disciplines. The creative catalyst for the transformation of the Crest into a new home for CAP UCLA was Kristy Edmunds, CAP UCLA’s prior executive and artistic director, who is currently the Director of MASS MoCA.

Located near the UCLA campus in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, The Nimoy will serve as an important addition to UCLA’s rich offerings of cultural venues and resources across the city, which include the Hammer Museum and the Fowler Museum. Just 200 steps south of the Hammer Museum and near one of the busiest intersections in the nation, The Nimoy serves as a gateway to CAP UCLA's programs by bringing them directly to the communities where people live and work.

The Nimoy boosts revitalization of the Westwood neighborhood and expands the cultural footprint of Los Angeles by reviving a dormant building into a community gathering place, restoring a valuable cultural asset, and improving the financial wellness and social vitality of the neighborhood. 

Story by Sean Arenas & Jessica Wolf

Posted Sept. 18, 2023

Updated Oct. 2