L.A. Fest plans to span ethnic bridges with art

Peter Sellars is the first to admit that the upcoming 1993 Los Angeles Festival he will direct is larger and more complex than he ever dreamed.

“There have been 350 people who have had a hand in shaping this festival and the result is turning out to be something that no one person could have thought of,” Sellars said. “What we did was bring a lot of artists together and ask them , ‘What kind of city would you like to have?’ ”

The result will be a $ 4 million, 400-event festival bringing together some 600 artists, most of whom live in Los Angeles. The fest runs Aug. 20-Sept. 19 and will incorporate dance, theater, visual arts, literary works, video and film. Sellars also oversaw the last incarnation of the festival, in l990.

“Right now we have a who’s who of Third World artists living right here in this city,” Sellars said. “But many of them are largely unrecognized. This festival is a way of meeting those people and getting them all talking to each other.”

For example, there will be 25 free performances under the title “Crossing L.A.,” which brings together diverse artists working in different media to collaborate on 25 different projects.

“These evenings will bring collaborations crossing disciplinary and ethnic lines,” Sellars said. “They’re not going to be slick and finished projects, but this cross section of what’s up in the current art scene in this city will be unparalleled. This festival is a first step toward creating a cultural organization that can truly reflect a society that is the most representative of a global community.

“There is no other place in this world that has more different types of people living there than Los Angeles,” he said. “And this generation now living here has been given a historical responsibility. They can either run from it in fear or they can live up to the challenge and genuinely create a new culture and a new society.”

With the 1992 riots serving as a backdrop, the 1993 festival will concentrate on the African, African-American and Middle Eastern cultural experience. In doing so, the festival has had to not only call upon hundreds of artists from throughout the city, but also worry about ethnic clashes.

Among the highlights will be the “Memory Projects,” in which five artistic teams present work reflecting the collective memories of local neighborhoods. The artists are Keith Antar Mason, the Hittite Empire, Norma Bowles, Ernie Lafky , Susan Mogul, Dagoberto Reyes, Lula Washington and the Lula Washington Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Theatre.

In “Sacred Landmarks,” both music and dance will be performed in 15 free concerts by both ensembles and solo artists. All of these concerts will be free of charge.

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