Culture Festival on Arts and Culture Commission Agenda

At a meeting on Oct.11, the Arts and Culture Commission received an update on a new cultural festival. The commission also reviewed the policies and application process for specific grants.

The commission is developing a new event that is currently referred to as the “Beverly Hills Cultural Festival.” The commission has been working with Community Services to create an impactful experience as part of the ongoing Embrace and Celebrate Culture Initiative. City Staff and the commission envisioned it as a free, one-day, outdoor event that would take place sometime in March. 

On Sept. 21, a memorandum including plans of the new festival was brought forward to the City Council Liaison / Rodeo Drive / Special Events / Holiday Program Committee for consideration. 

The event is intended to celebrate the “diverse communities that make up the fabric of Beverly Hills and our region including Jewish/Israeli, Persian/Iranian, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African American, African, Mexican/Latino/alx, LGBTQA+, European and Indigenous/Native American communities (Tongva, Chumash, and Tataviam) with the hope of showcasing our history, rich arts and cultural traditions,” according to the memorandum.

The committee was presented with three options for executing the cultural festival: planning it as part of the city’s Farmers’ Market, as its own community gathering in a large park, or as a street fair with road closures. The committee approved the festival and decided it should occur at a March Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market. 

Chair Liliana Filipovich disagreed with the approved plans and the way it was presented to the committee, claiming that it sacrificed the commission’s hopes for the celebration. “The presentation was not given to the Arts and Culture Commission prior to going to the liaisons and we didn’t know about the form [the cultural festival] would take,” said Filipovich. “From our epic idea of doing something significant and valuable for the city, we ended up with a farmers’ market event. To me, it was very disappointing.”

The commission shared similar dissatisfaction with the event’s size but decided it was an essential step towards creating the celebration they truly want in the future. “If your Council is telling you this is all we’re going to do and that’s all they want, I had to embrace it and be appreciative of what we were given. I looked at it as a fail for the festival that we want,” said Commissioner Karla Gordy Bristol. “But we could look at it as a way to develop and show parts of what our big vision is.”

The commission voted 4-1 to move forward with the festival as approved. 

The commission also reviewed the current grant policies. Currently, the Beverly Hills Human Services Division administers the Community Assistance Grant Fund and all applicants are reviewed by the Human Relations Commission and Charitable Solicitations Commission. The Arts and Culture Commission was introduced to a potential change to the review process that would allow the commission to have a larger role in its outcome. Staff will present the commission with a more thorough report at a later date.

Toward the end of the meeting, the commission heard from Executive Assistant Aida Thau about the continued success of the monthly Beverly Hills Art Walk. This season’s tour is planned and presented in collaboration with the Beverly Hills Historical Society. Commissioner Deborah Frank attended the latest Art Walk and shared her pleasure with the program at the meeting. “It was wonderful,” said Frank. “I think that City Staff and everybody involved has done a terrific job in making the tour come about and I think it gets better each time.”

The Art Walk has two tours scheduled for the remainder of this season, one on Nov. 13 and the last on Dec. 11.