The Ford has always been considered a showcase for local artists, and this season dozens of artists will be showcased as the Ford moves online with free, virtual programming. The online programs were created in response to the venue’s closure due to COVID-19 and will be shared on a variety of platforms including Facebook Premiere, YouTube, Instagram and Zoom, and The Ford’s own newly designed website.
“Our goal is to engage as many people as we can,” Cynthia Fuentes, The Ford’s first Director, told the Buzz. “We have an opportunity to provide free programming- with few barriers like traffic and freeways – to showcase LA’s diverse community of artists and creative expressions about what’s happening in our communities. Moving online enables us to continue to support the region’s artistic communities, make their work widely accessible, honor the expansive cultural work, past and present, and foster the intercultural dialogue that is at the heart of issues impacting Los Angeles.”
Last December, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the longtime steward of the nearby Hollywood Bowl, also assumed stewardship of The Ford to create operational efficiencies. Owned by the County of Los Angeles and situated in a 32-acre regional park in the Cahuenga Pass, the John Anson Ford Theatres complex celebrates its centennial this year as one of the oldest performing arts venues in Los Angeles still in use. Under the new agreement and Fuentes leadership, The Ford plans to continue to serve as a home for local artists, explained Fuentes. Before taking the helm at The Ford, Fuentes spent the last decade doing community engagement with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, helping to bring the orchestra into the community.
“There is a lot of conversation about the role of arts organizations,” noted Fuentes, who pointed to “our series ‘State of LA’ , which seeks to honor the many creative producers who are talking about what is happening in their communities. In a post COVID-19 world, at some future season, we hope we can go beyond LA and talk about what is happening in communities around the world.”
Some of the programs will be pre-recorded and others will be live on Zoom. Following safety protocols, Fuentes and her staff have been welcoming artists to the venue to record in areas of the recently renovated venue in addition to the stage. The venue was recently enhanced through an $80 million renovation project funded by the County of Los Angeles.
The online offerings will be presented via four series:
- Ford Digital Festivals – Curator-led explorations ranging from wellness in communities of color to contemporary Native artistry.
- LA Soundscapes – A combined online lecture/demonstration, performance, and early-morning crafting workshop designed especially for families who will receive a box filled with craft components.
- State of LA! – In-depth conversations and performances spotlighting the culture-makers shaping the future of the arts in LA.
- From The Ford – Archival performance footage combined with new insights from featured artists who were invited to select their favorite shows. The first of the series, From the Ford, will debut on Thursday, August 27, 2020. The programming will continue through December.
“We are all story tellers,” said Fuentes. “We are just flexing those muscles in a different way, it’s like making small television shows.