The “Faces of Los Angeles” media festival, held outdoors over two city blocks last August as the kickoff to the 2000 Democratic National Convention, proved to 15,000 guests that Los Angeles is more than movie stars and TV studios.
The focus of the event, staged by the LA Convention 2000 host committee, was to show that Los Angeles' defining characteristics are its people and its cultural diversity, according to event producer Sandra Bartsch, president of Los Angeles-based event producers Bartsch & Trotter.
Bartsch made the active involvement of the community a cornerstone of her event proposal. Photographs of Angelenos — all shot by more than 200 area children — were the main decor element at the event.
Three months before the event, Bartsch & Trotter began working with students from local high schools and LA's Best, an after-school program for elementary school children. “We conducted workshops where photographers came in and showed the children how to take pictures,” she says.
The event team gave the children disposable cameras and an assignment to photograph the people who had made a difference in their lives. “These kids went to their families and friends and took their images,” Bartsch says. “It would stimulate a conversation about who is important in their lives and about mentorship.”
The images were reproduced on 20-by-24-foot banners suspended from surrounding buildings. Photo “snakes” — curvy display cases containing more photographs — were positioned throughout the area. The photographs also served as centerpieces for each table, Bartsch says. In addition, the photographs were mixed in with Los Angeles imagery and projected onto downtown buildings. XL Productions of Marina del Rey, Calif., created the projections.
IN THE ZONE
The event was divided into four color-coded zones — each with a different look and cuisine — to showcase the city's diversity and to keep traffic flowing. “Our intention was to break up the large two-city-block area and create spaces with entertainment and food,” Bartsch says. Los Angeles-based Patina handled all catering.
The blue zone was a mellow jazz club, featuring blue lighting and Asian cuisine. Gospel singers and the Willie Jaye Blues Band performed. The red zone was “fiery hot and Latin,” Bartsch says. Festive music accented with red and orange lighting complemented the spicy cuisine. “The green zone was more tranquil, like an enchanted garden,” Bartsch says. Photographs and white paper lanterns hung overhead.
The main stage was in the kaleidoscope zone, “where conceptually everything comes together,” Bartsch says. “It was colorful and eclectic.” Patti LaBelle and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy were among the performers.
White linens and white chairs, provided by Los Angeles-based Regal Rents, were used in all areas. “The idea was that all structures and props would be a white backdrop for the color imagery of the photographs,” Bartsch says. Votive candles in colored holders on the tables provided subtle color.
As guests came at 6:30 p.m., they were entertained by a roving mariachi band and a Chinese lion dancer. “We had food stations and opening acts on each stage right when the guests began to arrive,” Bartsch says.
An hour later, all eyes focused on the main stage for speeches by Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan and Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe.
The event spread over 206,000 square feet on three adjacent properties — the Music Center, the Department of Water and Power building and a blocked-off section of Hope Street. All told, the production required three stages, eight different performing groups, 85 food stations, 110 bar stations, more than 800 catering staff and 800 volunteers.
In planning the event, Bartsch found she had to deal with more than one “landlord.” “The Music Center is county-owned; the DWP is a city institution but acts as an independent entity; and Hope Street is under city regulations,” she says. Both county and city permits were required.
The DWP building was not built to host events, thereby creating logistical challenges. When Bartsch & Trotter decided to use the front of the building for the main stage, the team had but one weekend before the event to build the stage over the moat that surrounds the DWP building, Bartsch says.
The top floor of the DWP's underground parking structure served as the area for the red zone. “We had to put in steel support structures because the weight limits for the parking structure were inappropriate for an event of that size,” she adds.
Bartsch & Trotter's emphasis on diversity struck the right note with the client. In the words of LA Convention 2000 CEO and president Noelia Rodriguez: “Our ‘united’ theme captured the characteristics that make Los Angeles a world-class city — the diversity of our people and the pride of our community spirit.”
Bartsch & Trotter
2337 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90291
310/822-1882; fax: 310/822-1892
E-mail: [email protected]
The Blue Zone:
Chinese Beef Salad with Spicy Oriental Dressing
Larb (Minced Pork with Lime, Cilantro and Peppers served in Cabbage Leaves)
Vegetarian Noodles with Soy Dressing
Assorted Sushi with Wasabi and Fresh Ginger
Chicken Salad with Crispy Wontons
The Red Zone:
Tijuana Caesar Salad
Spicy Chilled Tomato Soup with Avocado
Corn Tamales with Chicken
Beef Taquitos with Tomatillo Salsa
The Green Zone:
Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Black-eyed Pea Salad
Spicy Shrimp with Couscous and Mint Yogurt Sauce
Feta Mediterranean Salad
Farfalle Pasta Salad with Pesto and Tomatoes
Black Olive Focaccia