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New Program Paves Way for L.A. Festival : Arts: Celebration of African and Middle Eastern cultures begins Aug. 20 with a newly designed brochure.

July 19, 1993|DIANE HAITHMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles Festival has finalized its 1993 program schedule and this week will begin distributing its promotional brochure detailing highlights of the monthlong event. The celebration of African, African-American and Middle Eastern cultures begins Aug. 20 and continues through Sept. 19.

In 1990, the festival's colorful but confusing brochure was virtually unreadable and the target of many complaints. This year, festival executive director Allison Sampson said, the brochure is straightforward, with one program listing information chronologically and another insert providing background data on each performance.

"We learned a lot since the last time we did this," Sampson said.

While previous festivals have brought in artists from around the world, budget constraints recently forced organizers to limit Festival '93 to U.S.- and Los Angeles-based artists. Some foreign artists will be represented in performances co-hosted by other organizations under the festival's banner, however, and the festival will include an extensive international film series. More than 70% of the festival's events are free.

This year's overall theme is "Home, Place and Memory," and the event is subdivided into five "theme" weeks: Spirituality in Art; Voices of Liberation; Life and Art of the Streets; Reclaiming History; and Cultural Survival.

While festival events will take place throughout greater Los Angeles, a hub of the action will be Leimert Park's Vision Complex in the Crenshaw district, which is receiving a $120,000 face lift in a partnership between the festival and actress and community activist Marla Gibbs. Sampson called the Vision project the festival's "single largest venue expenditure."

The complex includes two theaters, with another 200-seat space being constructed as part of the festival rebuilding. The city and county are also involved in renovating streets and upgrading the lighting surrounding the complex.

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Sampson said the festival chose the Vision Complex because "we were really impressed by the number of artistic and cultural institutions that were already there, and Gibbs' theater was located in . . . an African-American community, which was important to us."

Other main sites are the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Plaza; Santa Monica's 18th St. Arts Complex; UCLA and USC/Exposition Park; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Rancho Cienega Park and the Getty Museum.

The festival includes several special series: the Memory Projects commissioned artistic teams--including Keith Antar Mason and the Hittite Empire--to collaborate with community organizations in creating works reflecting the history of local neighborhoods; "Sacred Landmarks" brings performers to places of worship, and "Crossing LA" brings together 22 local artists to create programs based on the festival's central theme in sites near Leimert Park.

Others include: the Getty Museum Concert Series, including West African griot Foday Musa Suso; Off the Beaten Path, which features open houses at more than 60 area exhibition spaces, and Women's Voices, which will include readings by Gwendolyn Brooks, Ntozake Shange and Adrienne Rich.

Festival highlights include: the Bukharan Jewish ensemble Shashmaqam; "Ghurba," by Cornerstone Theater, a community collaboration exploring Arab-American life in Los Angeles; two plays by the Traveling Jewish Theater; performances by the gospel group Sweet Honey in the Rock, and "Quotations From a Ruined City" by Iranian-American director Reza Abdoh and his Dar A Luz performance company.

The Hollywood Bowl will host the West Coast premiere of Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3, which is a memorial to the Holocaust, as well as a performance by the newly organized Festival Armenian Chorus.

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The festival is mailing its brochure to more than 100,000 Los Angeles arts patrons this week. Sampson said their mailing list includes everyone who has recently bought a ticket to events at the Hollywood Bowl, the Music Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and other major arts centers.

Those who haven't received a brochure by July 26 may call (800) 6LA-FEST to request a copy or find out where they are being distributed. Sites include the Museum of Tolerance in West Los Angeles, First AME Church in South-Central L.A. and the Islamic Center on Vermont Avenue.

Beginning July 31, brochures will also be available at Robinsons-May department stores.

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