City Considers Expanding Festival Beverly Hills

Following the mostly positive reception of last year’s Festival, the Arts and Culture Commission formally recommended turning the event into a new tradition at Wednesday’s Liaison meeting.

“One of the goals was to showcase the city of Beverly Hills as a world-class arts and cultural destination,” said Recreation Services Manager Matthew Brown. “[We] would like to build upon the success of the first Festival and continue to elevate the Festival as a cultural destination.”

The Festival’s first iteration, held in March 2023 at the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market, saw more than 15 artists and organizations take part — including theater performances, culinary programs, and art workshops. Between the marionette productions and Chinese New Year lion dances, the day was one of the commission’s most ambitious attempts to showcase the diversity of the city’s cultural scene.

Brown’s vision, as presented to kick off the liaison meeting, focused on expansion. With a planned date in late July, increased promotional efforts, and a prospective new venue in Roxbury Park, he claimed that Festival 2024 could attract more high-profile talent and larger crowds. The proposal was also targeted to fix some of the issues with last year’s debut, such as inclement weather and schedule competition with the Los Angeles Marathon and Easter programming.

“July offers the opportunity to avoid the logistical challenges with an additional spring event,” Brown said. “We would program activities in such a way that would keep people interested throughout the duration.”

Councilmember Lili Bosse was among the attendees at the 2023 Festival. Although she labeled the event as “still growing,” she commended last year’s effort on its engagement, particularly with children. Bosse seemed to suggest even more publicity measures than the commissioners detailed, getting a range of restaurants involved and investing in banners.

Mayor Julian Gold was largely supportive of the proposal as well, but he raised questions throughout the meeting. The commissions were able to provide some specifics about his budgetary concerns, but Gold still had feedback about timelines and prioritizing talent.

“I’d rather have the performers than the banners,” Gold said, although he conceded that he wasn’t going to micromanage the plans. “It’s a new venue, we’d like to make a big splash, we don’t want to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

Festival still has hurdles to clear before it becomes an annual mainstay. Next week, the commission faces a second presentation, this time in front of the full City Council. Gold indicated that he was looking for more concrete information moving forward.

“[If] it’s going to take a little extra money, I doubt you’re going to have a problem,” he concluded. “If it’s four hours, eight hours, that’s nice. I’d just ask that as you present it, you’d have a better idea of what we’re really talking about.”  

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