Grand Avenue’s Arts Festival Returns for a Fifth Year

Back for its fifth year this Saturday, Grand Ave Arts: All Access opens up every arts venue along Grand Avenue with free admission and special programming.

This Saturday, the collection of museums, schools and performance halls that dot Bunker Hill’s Grand Avenue corridor are bringing back their collaborative street festival Grand Ave Arts: All Access.

The organizations involved — including the Colburn School, The Broad Museum, Center Theatre Group, the L.A. Opera and REDCAT, among others — operate year-round but many are ticketed spaces.

For this festival, now in its fifth year, admission to every location is free and open to the public, with sidewalk activations, a special food court and activities and screenings set up specifically for the event. Grand Ave Arts: All Access runs 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2. The event drew approximately 10,000 people last year, and organizers expect similar turnout this Saturday.

The one-day festival has done an admirable job bringing people from Downtown and Greater Los Angeles together in celebration of the arts, according to Rachel Moore, president and CEO of the Music Center. She said that each year draws in more people, with organizers responding with more activities for the growing crowd.

“To be part of an unprecedented collaboration between prominent arts organizations in the county is pretty exciting,” Moore said. “It’s nice to be able to show the diversity of our museums and performing arts organizations in a six-block area. It’s transformed itself and how we see Grand Avenue as a vital cultural corridor.”

Grand Park, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale are also participating in the event.

Starting from the north end of Grand Avenue at Temple Street, the festival includes Grand Park’s 35-altar Dia de Los Muertos exhibition, which is on view through Sunday. Across the street at the Music Center, there will be Dia de los Muertos-themed arts classes in the recently redeveloped plaza. The space will also be hosting a number of performances and workshops, from the L.A. Phil, the L.A. Master Chorale and Center Theatre Group. The L.A. Opera will be offering backstage tours of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Representatives from different institutions said there’s no set path for visitors to take. People can start at the northern end of Grand Avenue or at Fifth Street, or zigzag through the different spaces. Many of the activities and installations will be either repeated for multiple tours and classes, or set up all day for people to experience.

The later is the case at MOCA. The museum will be offering free admission, plus a screening of eight short films presented by Dance Camera West, according to Eva Seta, the museum’s director of communications who is coordinating its festival events. There will also be a workshop inspired by one of the museum’s most recent exhibits With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985, a look at the works of 50 artists who participated in the pattern and decoration art movement of the 1970s and 1980s. There will be a large panel that people can add their own designs to and the workshop will be open from 12-4 p.m.

“What we ask visitors to do with this communal art work is to respond to the exhibition,” Seta said.

The biggest addition to the festival this year, Moore said, is an expanded food selection. There are new eaters at the Music Center plaza.  To the south, at Cal Plaza, Spaceland is hosting a beer garden for adults and the Downtown Center Business Improvement District is putting on a food court.

The Central Library at 630 W. Fifth St. is the southernmost part of the festival. There will be a series of classes where families and kids can create sugar skulls for Dia de Los Muertos, as well as docent-led tours of the Art Deco building, according to Leah Price, who is handling the Library’s involvement. At each edition of the festival the crowds have grown and so Price recommended that guests arrive early to avoid waits.

Moore said that the five years of the event have helped show Los Angeles how connected and dense Bunker Hill’s main artery is.

Grand Avenue Arts: All Access runs 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, along Grand Avenue between Temple and Fifth streets. Or grandavearts.org.

nslayton@timespublications.com.