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LA Phil Cancels 2020 Hollywood Bowl and The Ford Seasons

May 14, 2020

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to wreak havoc across the world, arts organizations are being hit particularly hard. Indeed, it was announced today that the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association is canceling the 2020 seasons at the Hollywood Bowl and The Ford for the first time in their 98-year history. Running from June through September and programmed by the LA Phil, whose summer home is the Bowl, the seasons are known for performances by a broad array of artists and genres.

With the estimated loss of revenue from canceled concerts (in addition to a portion of the orchestra’s spring season), a staggering $80 million, the LA Phil is also furloughing 25 percent of its non-union workforce as well as the entire Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Bowl’s seasonal employees.

“The cancellation of our summer programs and the resulting impact on our musicians and staff is devastating,” said LA Phil Chief Executive Chad Smith in a press release. “We are all broken-hearted by the effects of this crisis and share the disappointment of all those who look forward to the Bowl and Ford seasons every year. The LA Phil has been here for more than 100 years,” added Smith, “and the Hollywood Bowl and The Ford for nearly as long. We are doing what is necessary to ensure that we are all here for the next century.”

Gail Samuel, President of the Hollywood Bowl and Chief Operating Officer of the LA Phil Association, said, “It’s deeply saddening to acknowledge that the 2020 summer season is gone, but the LA Phil isn’t going anywhere. Our cultural community is among the most vibrant and creative in the world. We have every reason to look ahead with hope and confidence to next summer’s centennial celebrations at the Hollywood Bowl and The Ford.”

Among the performers who made their debuts at the Bowl have been Van Cliburn, Yo-Yo Ma and Louis Armstrong, while Frank Sinatra was the first pop star to perform with the LA Phil at the storied venue. Other bold-faced names having graced the stage include Luciano Pavarotti, the Beatles, and dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov. And it was in 2005 when a 24-year old Venezuelan conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, made his U.S. debut with the LA Phil at the Cahuenga Pass amphitheater, becoming the orchestra’s music director in 2009.

The Bowl, named one of the 10 best live music venues in America by Rolling Stone magazine in 2018, with its iconic fireworks’ concerts and which seats some 17,000 — and where tickets could be had for a dollar — defines summertime in Los Angeles.

Victoria Looseleaf is an award-winning international arts journalist who covers dance, music, theater and the visual arts. Publications she has contributed to include the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and KCET Artbound. Her feminist novella in verse, Isn’t It Rich? is being adapted for the stage, and her children’s/coffee table book, Russ & Iggy’s Art Alphabet, will soon be published by Red Sky Presents. In addition, Looseleaf co-founded the online magazine ArtNowLA.

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