Hundreds of people, from families to young professionals, filled downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Avenue for the second annual Grand Avenue Festival on Saturday.
A collaborative effort among the Downtown Center Business Improvement District and different arts organizations along Grand Avenue, the festival had several goals.
“Among many things, the festival seeks to bring diverse communities into downtown and make them familiar with where the venues are,” said Leslie Stevens, choreographer for L.A. Opera’s Opera Camp.
Diversity was definitely a main element, with various art forms and food tasting from several cultures. The Music Center of Los Angeles featured five dance floors on Grand Avenue with dance lessons of 10 different styles.
“We used to go every year to the L.A. County Arts Open House. It was a county-wide event,” said Carroll Gelberg, a mother from Santa Clarita. “Now we come here, and it’s been really great.”
Kids participated in free arts and crafts on the Music Center plaza. This was a huge attraction for families.
“I like the arts and crafts,” Anneliese Gelberg said. “I’m making ideas for a park across the street over there.”
Children and adults were able to explore their creative side or enjoy the creative pursuits of local artists with various performances happening every hour across Grand Avenue. Organizations who joined the effort included the Music Center, LA Opera, University of Southern California, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Public Library, Grand Performances, Colburn School for the Performing Arts, Los Angeles Conservancy, REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney Cal Arts Theater) and Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels.
Many of the events were organized by the community outreach divisions of each organization.
“We don’t want the community to think the opera house is just for rich white folk,” Stevens said. “Traditionally the art form is European. But its artists today, especially in Los Angeles, are very diverse.”
From tap and salsa dancing, to the L.A. Philharmonic’s tribute to Beethoven, the festival offered something for everyone.
“I loved hearing the music everywhere,” said Melissa Stahly, ULV alumnus who brought her niece down for the fun. “It really helped keep the festival aspect going all down Grand Avenue.”
In addition to art, the Grand Avenue Festival featured a taste of downtown L.A. with food samples, all less than $5, from premier restaurants such as Pinot Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, Checkers and Zip Fusion.
“I just spent $4 on a cookie,” Stahly said. “But it was pretty good.”
Some venues drew in crowds for select free performances.
“We came to see our friend play at REDCAT,” said Andrea Lieberherr, Cal Arts alumnus. “He’s playing percussion in a piece by Steve Reich.”
Although it is difficult to gauge the success of such a huge event, it is safe to say that the Grand Avenue Festival was successful in providing a diverse array of entertainment and food for the community.
“Most of these organizations go out into the community to give art,” said Patrick Hediger, L.A. Opera’s community programs manager. “It’s important that we also invite (the community) back into our homes.”
Stephanie Duarte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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