The Frieze Los Angeles art fair is set to be hosted in Beverly Hills in February 2022, but Beverly Hills City Council is asking organizers to change the event’s name. At an Oct. 26 Study Session, the Council roundly agreed that changing the name to Frieze Beverly Hills or at least including Beverly Hills in the name is an important consideration.
Frieze organizers are asking the city to waive more than $73,000 in fees for the use of public facilities, including Beverly Gardens Park and Greystone Mansion. The Council was hesitant to approve waivers for a for-profit event that uses “Los Angeles” in its branding.
“We need to hope that you can find a way to remarket that,” Vice Mayor Lili Bosse said to Frieze organizers about the name. “You have me 99% there. I just need that one percent to reflect Beverly Hills. I am all in and truly enthusiastic about it.”
Frieze’s signature tent exhibition will be held at 9900 Wilshire Blvd., the future site of One Beverly Hills. For this main part of the fair, Frieze is paying all necessary fees and permitting costs. In addition to the main fair, Frieze organizers are hoping to partner with the city to include a public sculpture exhibit in Beverly Gardens Park and the Rodeo Drive median, as well as performances at Greystone Mansion. They also want to use the city’s trolley to provide transportation and promotion for the fair. These four city resources account for the bulk of the fees that Frieze is hoping to avoid.
“I think if the ask is of Beverly Hills, then obviously, we should get more recognition for that,” said Councilmember Lester Friedman. “The fact that the event is going on in Beverly Hills primarily and the waiver of costs is being asked of Beverly Hills, I think that’s something that needs to be considered. I really like the event. I’m fully supportive of the event, but I’m going to ask that there be consideration given to naming it differently than it is named right now.”
Frieze organizers say they would have to “regroup internally” to consider the name change as partnerships and marketing efforts have already been created along with significant brand cache from previous years under the name Frieze Los Angeles. The fair was hosted at Paramount Studios in 2019 and 2020 but was canceled in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Since then, Paramount Studios is no longer providing the venue space, and organizers have moved Frieze Los Angeles 2022 to Beverly Hills.
“I think that this is part of the larger conversation, that we weren’t totally prepared for to be honest, that there would be an ask around a name change,” Frieze curator and spokesperson Christine Messineo said at the hearing.
Whether it will be called Frieze Los Angeles, Frieze Beverly Hills or some combination of the two, it appears the fair is coming to Beverly Hills. What remains in question is whether the proposed free public activities will be approved.
While no Council members said the naming issue was a make-or-break proposition, they asked organizers to come back before the City Council at its Nov. 2 meeting with possible options for changing the fair’s name.
Despite the snag over the name, the City Council offered unanimous support for the general prospect of Frieze coming to Beverly Hills.
“The availability of public art in Beverly Gardens Park is just a good for us,” said Mayor Robert Wunderlich. “In my mind, most if not all of the requests are all for the benefit of the city.”
Frieze Los Angeles is part of an international series that includes fairs in London, New York and Korea. The 2022 fair is expected to include more than 80 gallery exhibitors and will attract an estimated 35,000 visitors who will spend about $15 million on hotels and $7 million on dining countywide. The bulk of this spending happens within walking distance or a short drive of the main fair, according to organizers.
The Beverly Hills Arts and Culture Commission is expected to host city-sponsored activities in conjunction with the fair which is slated to take place Feb. 17-20. The commission plans to host activities that include a city sponsored art exhibition, docent tours of art installations, a coordinated open house at local art galleries and a live artmaking event.
“The entire idea is to have the public learn more about the specific artworks because the more you are educated the more I think you enjoy the art,” said Commissioner Stephanie Vahn at an Oct. 12 Arts and Culture Commission meeting. “So many international travelers will be here with the show, and it will be a beautiful way to educate people about our city.”