We commissioned the illustration for The Scene from artist Richy Sánchez Ayala, a former Berkeley resident who said he remembers the city as “lots of sunshine, lots of colors, lots of green.”

Have you heard the buzz? This month Berkeleyside launched a brand new arts and culture newsletter rounding up the best of local events.

It’s called The Scene, and it highlights happenings in and around town, tips on the top events you won’t want to miss, Q&As with local artists, musicians and more — as well as fun, newsy tidbits you won’t find anywhere else.

Readers of our first two newsletters learned about which Berkeley artists participated in East Bay Open Studios, why a film crew was shooting in Strawberry Creek Park, and got the skinny on the Berkeley Potters Guild’s reduced-price ceramics sale, and the Central Library’s first book sale since 2020.

We’re covering everything from plays to concerts to author talks to festivals to neighborhood get-togethers, with plenty of events good for those with young kids and those on a tight budget. We’ve already heard from readers saying they find The Scene essential in planning their weeknights and weekends.

Even if you already get our Daily Briefing, you still need to sign up to receive the newsletter. (Remember, you can update your email preferences at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter.)

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Sign up for The Scene newsletter

Every Thursday morning, The Scene gives you the lowdown on arts, culture and events in and around Berkeley. Sign up for free.

Meet Andrew and Iris, your guides to The Scene in and around Berkeley

Andrew Gilbert and Iris Kwok. Credit: Ximena Natera and Kelly Sullivan

The Scene is put together each week by two experienced arts and culture reporters.

Andrew Gilbert, a West Berkeley resident for 15 years, has been writing about jazz, international music and more for Berkeleyside since almost the beginning. His first byline appears in our archives in August 2011, and he recently published his 500th — yes, 500th! — story. Among his favorite recent pieces: a profile of metal instrument builder Pete Engelhart, a glimpse at 1950s Berkeley through the eyes of nonagenarian vocal legend Barbara Dane, and a visit with Malian n’goni master Mamdou Sidibe, who grows gourds to build n’goni in a Berkeley community garden

Iris Kwok, who primarily covers the environment for Berkeleyside through a partnership with Report for America, is also a talented cellist. She’s explored Berkeley’s arts and culture communities in stories on Kala Art Institute’s printmaking festival, the Indigenous Peoples Day Powwow, and the canceling of the Berkeley Kite Festival.

“There’s plenty to do in Berkeley, and I hope that our newsletter will serve as a useful community resource — one that encourages people to go out and get to know this town’s wonderful arts and culture scene,” Iris said. “I certainly would have appreciated having something like The Scene when I was a Cal freshman almost five years ago!”

The Scene illustration is ‘love letter’ to Berkeley

Richy Sánchez Ayala, who created the illustration for The Scene, and a few of his mock-ups. Photo: Ellie Householder

A few months ago we asked artist Richy Sánchez Ayala to design a “flashy, bold and engaging” banner to adorn the top of The Scene.

“I knew I wanted something bright,” said Sánchez Ayala, who lived in North Berkeley from 2017 to 2019 while he was working part-time at the now-closed Expressions Gallery on Ashby Avenue. “That’s how I remember Berkeley: lots of sunshine, lots of colors, lots of green.”

Working with the Berkeleyside team, his illustration depicts a stylized view of the city from above, packed with details to evoke our vibrant arts and culture scene. Look closely, and you’ll even notice a few kites flying high at César Chávez Park.

“It’s a mixture between realism and illustration, and that process was very organic, very collaborative,” he said. “This illustration first and foremost is a love letter … to Berkeley.”

  • Have a friend who would enjoy reading The Scene? They can sign up here.
  • Have an event you’d like to see included? We do our best to stay on top of what’s happening in our community, but we love a tip. Reply to this email or send us a note at the-scene@berkeleyside.org and we’ll consider your event for inclusion in an upcoming newsletter.
  • Not everything will make it into The Scene, but you can always submit your events for free to our events calendar.
  • Are you a business or individual who would like to pay to feature your event here? Reach out to learn more about sponsored placements on our website and in our newsletters.

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Berkeleyside is Berkeley, California’s independently-owned local news site. Learn more about the Berkeleyside team. Questions? Email editors@berkeleyside.org.