On Saturday, September 28, 2013, Glow, the first all-night arts event in the United States to emphasize the commissioning of new work, will transform the beach in Santa Monica into a world of interactive and engaging contemporary art installations.
Building on the success of Glow’s first two editions, it is expected, once again, to attract between 100,000 and 200,000 visitors to Santa Monica Beach during the course of one night, making it among the largest public art events in the U.S.
In order to produce the event, staff will ask City Council to adopt an ordinance that temporarily suspends local law in the Glow zone for the duration of the event, as was the case in 2008 and 2010. This was the unusual solution that we were able to craft, working closely with the City Attorney’s office.
Use of public space in Santa Monica is by necessity heavily regulated given the broad range of demands and the need to preserve access to one of the most iconic beaches in the country. When we first started discussing Glow we realized that in order to provide the artists the freedom they needed to reinvent our public spaces, and give the public the opportunity to experience them, the event that we were imagining would essentially break every rule in the book. These range from when the parks are open to the public to what can take place on the beach at various times of the year. In 2008, we even needed to take precautions not to impact the grunion run!
After exploring all our options with the broad interdepartmental team that produces Glow, there didn’t seem to be any way around the rather daunting list of potential hurdles we had compiled, there were just too many constraints and regulations. So, we decided to approach the City Attorney’s office with a seemingly impossible request—the only way to produce Glow was to waive all of the applicable rules for this one event. And they agreed; it turns out we could ask City Council for this special exception for Glow, and they were willing to help us do it.
In my opinion this is a particularly telling example of the kind of collaborative effort it takes to produce transformative public art. “It takes a village” was never so true than it is the case of an event like Glow, which requires the enthusiastic participation of a wide range of city departments, from police and fire, to planning, building and safety, and the City Attorney’s office. Not to mention all the community partners and stakeholders, such as the Convention and Visitors Bureau and local business districts.
Their understanding and enthusiasm for the event are what allow us to ‘get to yes’, finding ways to craft safe, viable solutions for a new group of artists and a corresponding new set of issues each time.
So mark your calendars for Glow 2013 which will offer an extraordinary array of thought-provoking site-specific installations and performance works by dozens of artists from Los Angeles and around the world, including Mathieu Briand, Janet Echelman, Glenn Kaino, Rebeca Mendez, and Victoria Vesna!