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Top Cultural Stories of 2017


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Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

December 22, 2017 -- In recent years, Santa Monica has lost many of the unique venues that placed the beach city on LA's cultural map -- Vidiots, the Santa Monica Museum, Hennessey + Ingalls. Now, its pier concerts are skrinking, but there are some positive trends.

Art is blossoming Downtown, the pier concerts will continue, albeit on a smaller scale and KCRW is literally emerging from the underground.

Here are a few of the top cultural stories of 2017.

Saying Goodbye to the Twilight Concert Series as We Knew It

The City Council basically said goodbye to the enormously popular Twilight Concert Series on the Pier earlier this month, unnerved by the potential dangers posed by crowds that had become so massive they spilled far onto the beach and beyond the reach of help if needed ("Santa Monica Twilight Concert Series on Pier Survives Proposal for 2018 Hiatus," December 13, 2017).

The series, which turned 33 this year, will be back in 2018 but it won’t be same. Expect it in the fall, after the summer crowds have thinned out, with a less edgy, eclectic line-up of performers as the City tries to reach a broader audience.

KCRW Emerges from Underground

After 35 years broadcasting from a cramped basement on Santa Monica College's main campus, KCRW moved this month into a state-of-the-art facility on SMC's new $115-million media campus, which also houses the school's media and design programs ("Santa Monica College Opens New Media Campus, KCRW Center," December 4, 2017).

The nationally recognized broadcaster known for its eclectic and adventuresome programming now has a cutting-edge studio, as well as its own outdoor stage, viewing platforms within the station and a large screening auditorium. The new facility marks a major step in the evolution of the National Public Radio station established in 1945 to train servicemen returning from World War II ("KCRW to Preview State-of-the-Art Center After 35 Years in a Santa Monica Basement," November 28, 2017).

Dennis Prager Takes on Santa Monica

Invited by the conductor of the financially stressed Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, ultra-conservative talk-show host Dennis Prager guest-conducted this August in a performance at Disney Hall ("Conservative Talk Show Host Declares Santa Monica Symphony Appearance a Victory," August 18, 2017).

Reaction from leaders of the left-leaning city ranged from refusing to react so as not to feed into a conservative frenzy about liberals not supporting freedom of expression, to disdain and refusing to attend.

Art Pops Ups Around the Downtown

Downtown Santa Monica rolled out a series of colorful rotating art works that transformed Downtown into an outdoor museum. The large-scale temporary installations began appearing this summer in "Triangle Square" and were coupled with "interventions and projections" along the Promenade ("Downtown Santa Monica Square Transformed Into Art Destination," July 18, 2017).

The project, Downtown officials said, helps "create environments that foster positive social interactions and enliven public spaces." It also helped lure holiday shoppers with "a whimsical cast" of holiday characters and interactive installations" that stretched along the Promenade ("Downtown Santa Monica Offers Holiday Shoppers More than Deep Discounts, Officials Say," December 18, 2017).


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