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.
I was greatly influenced by the arts in college. I believe in the value of a general education, including the arts, to gain perspectives beyond courses that are focused on a specific profession. I was fortunate to attend Columbia University, which has a required two-year program covering great works of literature, art history, music history, and philosophy. I continued my education in the arts and was an English major through my Junior year, although I ultimately earned a Ph.D. in chemical physics. I can think of no better way to gain perspective on the human condition and the seemingly impenetrable bureaucracies we sometimes face than to spend a semester studying the works of Franz Kafka.
My own modest experience as a practitioner of the arts is as a lyricist. Dating back to my teen years, my high school had an annual Sing competition among the classes. I was the lyricist for my class. I have continued in that tradition by writing a musical in honor of my wife’s round number birthdays (30 40 50 and 60). This year it even included a Hamilton rap adapted to be about my wife.
My family and I are regular theater goers, long-time supporters of KCRW and its eclectic programming, and members of LACMA. It was especially rewarding to attend the recent performances of the Jacob Jonas Dance Company at the Diavolo Theater and the Wallis, because my daughter danced with Jacob in the Beverly Hills High School Dance Company.
Question 2: What do you believe the role of City Council should be in developing and supporting the region’s arts and cultural infrastructure?
Beverly Hills City Council should have a significant role in supporting the arts to promote the interests of residents and businesses. Beverly Hills is known world-wide as a beautiful city and a city closely associated with the arts and the entertainment industry. Beverly Hills has many public art installations, sponsors public performances, and opened the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in 2013. Maintaining and continuing to invest in the unique qualities of Beverly Hills, including its association with the arts, is important for both the commercial vitality and for the residential quality of the city. Businesses, visitors, and residents are attracted to Beverly Hills because of its unique character and association with the arts and entertainment. I believe that City Council should continue to support art installations, increase the frequency and diversity of public performances, and include requirements for public arts and/or fees dedicated to the arts as a part of significant commercial development.
The impact of Beverly Hills’ support for the arts is also of enormous importance for the regional art community. The Los Angeles area is known world-wide for being a home of the arts and the entertainment industry. Beverly Hills is a vital part of the region’s art world. The continued support of Beverly Hills for the arts has great impact on the continued vibrancy of the arts in Southern California.
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 the city is focused on a vibrant local economy that serves the interest of the residential quality of life. Residents, prominent businesses, high-end retailers, luxury hotels, and visitors want to be in Beverly Hills because of the city’s distinctive character, including its association with the arts and culture. There is enormous competition around the nation and the world to be the attractor for residents, businesses and visitors. Beverly Hills has established a brand and a reputation that fosters the city as a location for residents, media businesses, retailers, and hotels. As a business consultant, I recognize the value of a brand, and the importance of investing to maintain and strengthen the brand. I believe that Beverly Hills must continue to invest in what makes it distinctive, including its association with the arts and culture, so that Beverly Hills will retain its advantages as an attractive home for residents and businesses into the future.
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?
As a member of the Beverly Hills City Council, I would support additional art installations in the city, increases in the frequency and diversity of public performances, and including requirements for public arts and/or fees dedicated to the arts as a part of significant commercial development. As discussed in my other answers, the continued attractiveness of Beverly Hills both for residents and businesses depends on supporting what makes Beverly Hills distinctive, including its close connection with culture and the arts.