Arts Advocates: Susan Hori
Q&A with Susan Hori
Susan Hori is a partner at the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, where she specializes in land use and environmental law. She has supported the Claire Trevor School of the Arts since 1997, and has been a longtime member of the Medici Circle, which provides student scholarships. Today, she maintains her steadfast support of the arts as a member of the CTSA Dean’s Arts Board. She is also a member of the UCI Chief Executive Roundtable and serves on the leadership board for UCI Water.
Q. Where did your passion for the arts originate?
SH: My mother ignited my passion for the arts at a very young age. I remember being taken to plays, to musicals, and to museums as a very young child, and then taking piano lessons, which gave me a real appreciation for music and musicians. My mother was a tailor and she loved pointing out the costumes, how they were made, and the types of fabrics that were used, which really sharpened our powers of observation. Although I went into business, my brother has continued to pursue a career in the arts, and I think we both have to thank our mother for exposing us to art as children.
Q. As a member of the Dean’s Arts Board and co-chair of the scholarship committee, can you share why scholarship support is so important to you?
SH: Establishing a career in the arts is not easy, and unlike other majors like engineering or law, your future career is not guaranteed. But I truly believe that we need to foster and support creativity in our world and encourage imagination and thinking outside the box, which is exactly what the arts do. Artists help us look at the world through a different lens and that is more important today than ever before.
Q. In your many years of scholarship support at CTSA, what was an award-funded arts research project that moved you?
SH: It’s hard to pick just one. I think what has impressed me the most is the breadth of the arts spectrum which is reflected in the Medici Scholars’ projects. One of the projects that I funded was for a dancer who used the scholarship to finish a video focused on non-classical forms of dance: Broadway, hip hop, jazz. I went to the showing of his film and just loved the energy of the dancers. During the pandemic, I also enjoyed meeting the scholars virtually and was invited to watch a reading of a play that one of the scholars had written about two women in Iran who worked in a factory making American flags. Fascinating. And more recently there have been several projects that look at art in the context of the environment and that combination of the arts and the built environment or natural environment is intriguing and thought provoking.
Q. The theme for the 21-22 academic year is “Emerging Brighter.” What are you looking forward to in CTSA’s coming year?
SH: Live performances. Being in the theater again with an audience all sharing the same moment of excitement and discovery. And I’m definitely looking forward to a summer with performances at the New Swan.
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