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It's a Family Affair

August 06, 1995|STEPHEN GREGORY

The 29th annual Watts Summer Arts Festival, which arose came from the ashes of the Watts riots to celebrate the community, has added more family entertainment this year in hopes of returning attendance to past heights.

There will be less rap music and more jazz, rhythm and blues and gospel performances. And for the first time in 20 years, the five-day event returns to Will Rogers Park--the site of the first festival in 1966.

Other offerings include films, art exhibits, fashion shows and community forums to discuss where Watts has come in the 30 years since the riots and where it is going.

New music also will be spotlighted as groups from across the spectrum vie for $1,000 and a record contract offered for the "best original music" from EMI Music.

Carnival rides--another long-absent feature of the original festival--also will return.

Attendance reached 80,000 in the late 1970s. But the number of festival-goers has steadily declined since then, organizers said, largely because of concern about street gangs.

In an effort to encourage family attendance, festival planners have limited rap groups to performing only songs with positive lyrics and have devoted Saturday afternoon to a gospel concert.

The Watts Summer Arts Festival will be held Wednesday through Aug. 13 at Will Rogers Park, 1335 E. 103rd St. from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The event is free.

Information: (213) 789-7304.

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