Frances Bilak

City: Beverly Hills
Position Seeking: City Council

Question 1: Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts) while growing up and its impact on you.

As a child, I loved performing and being in plays organized in my school or community. I remember my first play – The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I was cast as the youngest princess. My mother and father were both extremely supportive of my time in theater. My mother always helped me with my lines and spent so much time pouring over each word with me to ensure I was confident. I didn’t then realize how important this was for her.

My parents were both Holocaust survivors who came to this country. Through her support of my work in the arts, my mother learned how to read English. My ability to perform at a young age and the work she did with me to get to that point gave my mother the confidence and assurance she needed to become my father’s business partner. She wrote all the letters, did the bookkeeping and took care of her family.

Theatre will always have an impact on me. Every play I see, I think of my parents and their joy which made my joy even greater. I could not imagine a more impactful moment on me. The arts provide great opportunity to connect and those connections can last a lifetime. I am committed to providing more opportunity for arts in our community.

Question 2: What do you believe the role of City Council should be in developing and supporting the region’s arts and cultural infrastructure?

Arts and culture are a vital part of our society. It is important that City Council works to integrate arts and culture into strategic planning and visioning for our own city and take leadership to guide the direction for the region. Beverly Hills took initiative in having the Wallis Annenberg take over the old Post Office building. Now, there are many opportunities for the community to learn and experience arts and culture – right in their own community. We also worked hard as a community to restore the Saban, Laemmle’s Music Hall, Ahrya Fine Arts Theater and the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. With these legendary, historic venues restored to their original glamor, we demonstrate our commitment to ensuring these values have a home in our community. Beverly Hills is a world class community and it should be a world class leader in arts and culture investment.

Question 3: What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does art and culture play in advancing that vision?

My vision for Beverly Hills is to make a more livable, usable, and accessible Beverly Hills for everyone. Specifically, I want to kick-start the Southeast Area and Western Gateway with more pedestrian oriented, complete streets full of art and lined with galleries and coffee shops. These areas are under-utilized and present immense opportunity for creative, pedestrian oriented use.

Arts and culture are a way to transform and connect a community. We have a truly unique culture in Beverly Hills paired with a great history that ought to be embraced and uplifted. As we continue to market ourselves to an international community, we mustn’t overlook the utility of art and culture in residential daily life. Let’s be a community of world-class art and culture support.

Questions 4: A recent report by the Otis College of Design found that 1 in every 6 jobs in LA County supports the creative sector and economy in Los Angeles County. If elected, how will you aim to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy and the artistic community that it supports?

Demonstrating a commitment in arts at the city government level creates ripples throughout community. With proper investment into the parks, we could restore our facilities and add greater capacity for cultural programming. The evening could be spent watching Romeo and Juliet from your local park.

I also want to bring a DASH system to Beverly Hills that would help move people throughout the city to landmarks or to areas of interest like art gallery’s or to a museum — this could have a strong arts and culture component to it.