As a supporter of the Summer Music Festival since its inception, I respectfully disagree with
the Cultural Affairs Commission’s recommendation that the programming be modified to draw a broader demographic, and that presenting fewer concerts in a Sunday afternoon setting would draw more people to downtown restaurants.
Excuse me? Aren’t those babies and toddlers I see “dancing” in time to a diverse array of performers, whose cultures and ethnicities consistently open our eyes and ears to music many of us have not had the opportunity to experience before? And aren’t those seniors whose energy and dance skills are enviable, laughing and twirling to tunes many Gen X audience members (and yes, there are many every week) may have only heard at their parents’ or grandparents’ homes but now have a new appreciation for?
Summer Thursday evenings are a perfect time for a local “Hollywood Bowl” experience; more than a dozen members of our group consistently have enjoyed a pre-concert potluck (some dishes brought packed “to go” from downtown restaurants) in the City Hall courtyard for well over a decade – all of us drawn together by our common civic commitment and support, be it as past or present city council members and commissioners, and/or members of various community-sponsored organizations. We all enjoy the wonderful sense of community and the range of music offered. (In fact, to help say “thank you” for Gary Mandell and the Community Development Agency’s skills in putting together such a consistently enjoyable summer experience, many in our group began making small donations to the Agency, cheap enough for admission, we thought, to what had been 8-10 wonderful shows each year.) Please don’t reduce this number further.
And it’s not just Culver City residents; each act has a cadre of followers, many of whom are first-timers to downtown Culver City and who are amazed at all we have to offer. Perhaps a mini-Block Party sampling table by one or two different downtown restaurants pre-concert each week would introduce everyone to what we have available a little further east on Culver/Washington Blvds. Have you noticed the line at Starbucks on concert nights? And the patio diners at Kaizuka, Meet and St. Amour enjoying the best of all worlds between 7-9 p.m.?
Sunday afternoons are already crowded in Downtown Culver City, primarily because of the movie theaters, secondarily due to restaurant-goers before and after seeing a film. Typically (though not this year) two hours on a sunny summer afternoon doesn’t make for a relaxing music experience, more often one that can turn out to be hot and uncomfortable.
I’m usually not reluctant to make changes when necessary – but the Summer Music Festival’s time, location, and selection of artists work so well for hundreds of happy concertgoers week after week, year after year – I ask you to please reconsider altering this wonderful tradition. Develop a separate funding strategy for rap, hip-hop and alternative music concerts; a different time and different place for a different genre. Don’t cut back on what’s already working so beautifully. The Cultural Affairs Commission has the creative vision, let’s see what they can do with it.
Editor’s note- Tell it Sister! Can I get an Amen?