The meeting was held at a busy time for cultural activity in the city. In June, Beverly Hills participated in Make Music Day, which began more than 40 years ago in France and came to Beverly Hills three years ago. The celebration at Beverly Gardens Park featured musical acts in a variety of genres, such as classical, electronica, singer-songwriters, electronica and Jewish folk songs.
The program, according to Recreation Supervisor Corrina Lesser, was a big success.
Additionally, the city is approaching the halfway point of its summer-long Concerts on Canon series. Paolone said this year’s series has been the most well-attended yet, with exciting performances on the horizon, including an Aug. 3 concert with Persian musicians, the Rumba Acoustic Band. On July 6, a crowd-pleasing concert featured the ‘60s sounds of Beach St. A Go Go. Reveling in the nostalgia, attendees of all ages at Beverly Canon Gardens boogied as the Valley Village band covered classic songs by the Beatles, Beach Boys and Elvis.
The commission highlighted the upcoming “Shakespeare by the Sea” program at Roxbury Park as part of “Parks Make Life Better!” month, a statewide initiative and public awareness campaign promoting the benefits of recreational activity. The July 26 performance will be “Hamlet.”
At a recent “Parks Make Life Better!” event at La Cienega Park, children participating in Animal Encounters Summer Camp learned about—and visited with—a real camel.
Additional upcoming events include Family Bingo, on July 14 at Roxbury Park Community Center; Youth and Family Drum Circle with rhythm coach John Fitzgerald, on July 19 at La Cienega Park; and the “Parks Make Life Better” finale, featuring a passport activity log, scavenger hunt and more, held July 30 at the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market.
Additional agenda items at the July 12 meeting included the city’s fine art budget and its 2023-2024 work plan.
According to a city staff report, there is nearly $2 million in the commission’s Fine Art Fund.
This sum represents a $409,052 net increase in funds from the previous fiscal year, with more than $500,000 coming in from construction projects.
“[It’s] an amazing sign that construction is very vibrant and healthy in the city,” Interim Recreation Services Manager Paul Paolone said in a financial update before the commission.
For much of the meeting, the commission considered an idea for inclusion in its 2023-2024 work plan, which helps the commission and city staff set expectations and determine its ability to realize tangible goals for the year. Commission Vice Chair Karla Gordy Bristol proposed a “Love and Kindness Park,” described “as a way to bring positive, joyous energy to the City of Beverly Hills.”
Without identifying a specific location for the proposed park, Bristol delivered a presentation for a designated space that would feature community-created artwork as well as installations acquired through donations by civic-minded artists whose works emphasize themes of love and kindness. Bristol envisioned a destination for photographs, marriage proposals and serene, personal reflection.
Given the challenges associated with the pandemic, Bristol said, such a space was needed more than ever. While several people participating in public comment agreed, the commission tabled a motion to consider the park, with Beck saying she was not prepared to create another park in the city. Bristol clarified it would not have to be at a large park but rather could take the form of a small garden.
Beck said she was strongly committed to discussing fresh and exciting ways of enhancing the cultural life of the city.
“The Olympics are coming. The World Cup is coming. People are coming to Beverly Hills, and people are going to need things to do when they get to Beverly Hills besides the wonderful things we already have in the way of food and shopping,” Beck said. “I want them to know where they can go, what they can do and how they can participate.”
The commission’s next meeting is taking place Aug. 8.