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Iconic Venue Returns to Life as Representation of Los Angeles | By Heidi Snyder AMPHITHEATERS & FAIRGROUNDS:


THE MAGIC OF MACARTHUR PARK


On a warm summer night in August, I turn away from the sound


    thousands of Angelenos dancing to the rhythm of salsa music under the bistro lights and clear blue sky. The energy in the air is electric   sidewalks. I remember the vibrancy of that night with such clarity.   cultures, and voices heard in multiple languages, but all were versed in the universality of music. The park was bursting with life, and I remember thinking to myself, this is my L.A. I was so proud of my city and all the work that went into presenting that amazing show. On  home on the Westside, soul on refresh, with a renewed sense of what the world could be. I started my career working for behemoth entertainment companies


where the main focus was about making money. How many tickets were sold? How much merchandise was moved? How could we expe-  where our concerts are presented free of charge and the bottom line is human connection. Finding ways to measure the intangibles can be tricky, expensive, and painstaking; but it presented a new challenge and a refreshing way of viewing shared experiences and the commu-   years and I’m even more invigorated now than I was as a 22-year- old straight out of college looking to make my mark on the world. There are several reasons for my renewed energy to build community through music, none more pressing than the continued elimination of arts programming from schools, the disheartening polarization of our political system, and the demonization of immigrants and people of color. Having been born and raised in Los Angeles, I had heard of MacArthur Park and been warned to steer clear of it because of its unfavorable image. It wasn’t always like that though. The neighbor-  - ment, and abandonment. Once the site of a natural lake, the park   and fashionable, the area was eventually abandoned by the wealthy   of its infrastructure. By the 1980’s, MacArthur Park had earned itself


a reputation as a hub for gang violence, prostitution, and drug-deal-   this day. The movement is led by numerous organizations, volunteers, and concerned citizens with the common goal of restoring MacArthur Park to its former greatness. Today, the neighborhood surrounding MacArthur Park is the sec- ond most densely populated area in Los Angeles. Its community is primarily comprised of strong, brave, and tenacious immigrants com-  and Korean populations as well. They are the heart and soul of the Los Angeles community. They work harder than you can imagine and their devotion to family is unparalleled. They are the American dream come to life, and I feel fortunate to work in a community so rich in culture. 


Park community each year. We are committed to providing free access to the arts and celebrating the diversity of our city. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to some of the more unfortunate as-


pects of the neighborhood. Like Los Angeles as a whole, the severity    the park and surrounding streets. Debilitating mental health issues and drug use show themselves in the shells of people who once were, and I  - ing there was something more I could do to help. I once paid a man $20 to help me hang a banner, and through the process learned he was a Vietnam veteran who lived in a blue tent across the street along with his teenage daughter and elderly mother. My heart swells working at MacArthur Park, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad, but the heartbeat of the people there is palpable.  and I can barely contain my excitement for the upcoming concert sea- son. The magic is already there. We need only allow people the chance to feel safe, to feel included, and to feel appreciated for it to shine. For more information about our free, summer concert season in MacArthur Park, visit www.levittlosangeles.org. FM


Heidi Snyder is director of operations, Levitt Foundation, venue manager, Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles.


IAVM 29


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