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  • Reflections on my first 45 days

    Written by Executive Director, Mari Riddle


    Inspire community, celebrate diversity, and unite Los Angeles through free access to global performing arts. This is Grand Performances’ mission and one that resonates with me, not only as an audience member, but a supporter, and a performer who had the good fortune to play on the water court stage in the mid to late 90s.

    I’m now heading into my 2nd month as Executive Director and there have been some amazing highlights. My 2nd week we kicked off LAX Presents and are now in the second month of presenting Los Angeles-based classical and popular music groups to provide a viewing and listening reprieve to travelers visiting or coming home to our great city. LAX employees get to listen as well and we enjoy sharing what there is to do in LA from our information table.

    But the jewel of this last month and a half has been the performances at California Plaza; from the 52 story Earth Harp to the first LA performance for Caloncho with Grand Performances favorite Gaby Moreno. July 1st brought the voices of rising Indigenous hip hop artists from across the U.S. and Mexico. We’ve had intimate settings for film, theatre, and music at our Marina Pavilion amphitheater with engaging conversations between artists and audience post-show. People don’t want to leave and this is what makes Grand Performances unique – not only access to high quality performing arts but a peek behind the curtain with the artists themselves, hearing from them why their work has meaning and why art is a powerful vehicle which lifts voices that are often not heard.

    When I ask people why they come to Grand Performances, their faces light up recalling times when Grand Performances was a welcome refuge and a feeling of community as a first arrival to LA; “Grand Performances welcomed me to Los Angeles.” At a friend’s wedding reception, which I was able to go to after last Friday’s show, a bridesmaid happily showed me a photo on her phone of a group of friends, including the married couple, at Grand Performances five years ago. It’s a summer ritual, but now they head back with their spouses expanding the circle even wider.

    And why not? This is Los Angeles at its finest, performers giving their all mixed with the breathtaking setting of our venue, surrounded by skyscrapers, watching and hearing the magic transform you as dusk turns to evening in our home at California Plaza.

    In the video below, Board Chair, Rahul Marwah and Executive Director Emeritus, Michael Alexander welcome new Executive Director Mari Riddle to the Grand Performances Family.