RADAR L.A., Festival & ResidenciesLos Angeles, CA
It is exciting to report that a great deal of progress has been made in the thirty days since the announcement that ArtPlace America is providing generous funding for the new artist residency program and for Radar L.A., an international festival of contemporary theater. Local artists are making great advances in the development of their commissioned works; the curatorial team is finalizing a dynamic program for the festival and residency program; and the enthusiasm generated by the funding announcement has helped to expand and deepen many of the organizational partnerships that will be key to the success of the project.
Artists, designers and technicians have been working quickly to explore various venues throughout downtown Los Angeles, as we try to identify the perfect location to suit each production to be featured in the festival — while also considering how these venue choices can create a vibrant patron and pedestrian experience that demonstrates the ideals of creative placemaking. Particularly inspiring is the research into creative uses of historic theaters, including some grand “movie palaces” that haven’t held public events in many years. Some of them may not be viable as 2,000 + seat venues, but could be activated by artists in creative, non-traditional ways that highlight their architectural significance, but create intimate cultural experiences. Not only have local artists been participating in this process; we also hosted advance visits by Samoan choreographer/director Lemi Ponifasio and New York puppetry artist Basil Twist. It is becoming clear that, by breathing new life into some beautiful but long-dormant buildings in the downtown historic district, the festival and residency program has the potential to be a useful pilot project that could have significant impact on the planning process for the district’s revitalization.
The announcement of the ArtPlace America Funding has been followed by other “wins” in the last month:
- The National Performance Network has awarded funds to help subsidize an extended residency by Mexico City-based director Claudio Valdés Kuri, so that he will be able to conduct a creative residency for two weeks following his participation in the Radar L.A. Festival;
- The International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts, also known as the Informal European Theater Meeting (IETM), has announced that they will hold an official Caravan meeting during the Radar L.A. Festival, so we expect to be hosting a delegation of influential international colleagues (great news for the L.A. artists, who will surely benefit from this international exposure)
- Theater ensemble Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) received word that their new commissioned work Hospital, a collaboration with Dutch theater company Wunderbaum, will receive a grant from the Map Fund, which is supported by The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Members of LAPD just completed a planning residency with members of Wunderbaum in Amsterdam, and are looking forward to starting their final creative residency in downtown Los Angeles September 3.
The first round of residencies will take place this summer and the 2013 Festival will open September 24. The timing coincides with the research and planning phase for some longer-term development projects in downtown Los Angeles, ranging from a future “Broadway Arts Center” to an “Entertainment Complex” zoning concept that would link multiple historic theaters into a single development project.
An important question that we keep in mind during this process is how to ensure that we consider the experience of audiences as well as the needs of the artists, whose work is being utililized to conduct an urban sociological “experiment” about creative placemaking. The artists are excited to be part of a project that celebrates the potential of the downtown neighborhood and utilizes non-traditional venues as well as re-purposed historic sites – but we also need to ensure that their work is presented in the best light. With each decision, we are simultaneously considering the experience of the audiences, including attracting non-traditional audiences from various income levels; the artists, who are creative partners in “re-discovering” these spaces, yet also need to have a quality presentation of their work; and the stakeholders, such as the property owners and the downtown re-development planners and “boosters”.
It is essential to balance the needs of these varied constituents to ensure that the project is not only a useful pilot project for downtown, but also a quality cultural experience for all participants and a useful career opportunity for artists who are using this as vital exposure important to their careers.