By: Judy Shields
Rancho Cucamonga, California (The Hollywood Times) 07/11/2020 – “A few of the things that we did here at KCET during this pandemic is that we went from servicing the needs of educators and students in a partnership with LAUSD and other districts in California, to a partnership with KPCC to be able to give daily reports on Covid-19 news that were going on in our region. We soon realized that the arts and culture sector was going to be hugely impacted by what was going on. We started to see museums, small community theaters and performance venues all close, just like the restaurant businesses. The idea really evolved into ‘how can we become a place where we are showcasing the work that has not been able to be presented to audiences?’ in spite of the conditions that we are in– in terms of the pandemic and also with the racial unrest that we have been experiencing.” Juan Devis, KCET Chief Creative Officer, told The Hollywood Times during a telephone conversation.
The Hollywood Times was honored to be able to watch the first episode. I believe that all the adults reading this article should make sure to watch this informative panel discussion with those involved in the upcoming KCET Southland Sessions Public Television program being shown tomorrow, July 15th at 8pm on KCET (or streaming at http://kcet.org/southlandsessions). I truly enjoyed how this was shot at each of their homes and it was very clear to see and hear them. It was truly an eye opening panel discussion about LA culture and arts and how so very important culture and arts is to us and to our kids. And their kids to come I also really enjoyed the young folk that read poems, so emotional and heartfelt. PLEASE watch this new show with your family to find out about culture and arts.
Interview with Juan Devis, KCET Chief Creative Officer:
THT: Tell us about this new weekly programming starting this Wednesday, July 15th.
Juan Devis: The goal is to create an entire night of arts programming on KCET where we will be able to present everything from orchestral works by large companies such as The Pacific Symphony to actors performing monologues sometimes from their own homes. We will bring the high and low together and find the place that converges all those things together and present them to an audience in the community of Southern California. That’s it in a nutshell!
Interview with Danielle Brazell, General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs:
THT: Tell us about how this new programming came about and the affiliation with KCET?
Danielle Brazell: In March we got the stay at home orders from the mayor and we were able to move our employees safely to teleworking. The Department of Cultural Affairs funds community centers throughout LA and we provide public art for the city. We also make grant awards in partnership with over 350 nonprofit cultural organizations in the city. Many of them operate around $250,000 and $500,000 a year, so they are really important. They are all local and they employ artists and cultural workers as well as provide rich and dynamic programming for the people of our city and the visitors to our city.
We needed to find a partner to figure out how we could develop a new platform, because the creative sector is so innovative that they immediately pivoted and started to put up online panel discussions and cultural programing that was phenomenal. But there wasn’t really any kind of a centralized place where we could really start to help elevate the work that was being done. There was no better partner that KCET to develop this new virtual public square for culture in our region. We are now going to be able to get into the homes of 15.5 million viewers or households throughout the region. This is actually an extraordinary opportunity and I would also say that there would no better person than Juan to spearhead all of this as he has done such extraordinary things with this public television station. ‘Southland Sessions’ is going to help elevate the important role that art, culture and creativity plays in our region during this time of COVID, our current economic crisis and during this time of phenomenal new social awakening. It’s a moment for all of us to learn and to share in the creative expression.”
THT: What can our readers expect to see in this new series Southland Sessions
Juan Devis: “In the first episode, we decided that the best way to set up the series was to have a really serious conversation with some of our cultural leaders in the region and really talk about what we are experiencing right now. We invited our funder, of course, Danielle Brazell from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Michael Govan, president of LACMA and many more. We wanted to do a conversation of where we are, what are the needs of the community, and what is the opportunity for change that we have in front of us and then really follow up with a series that is going to be all about a solution.”
“The second episode is going to be a presentation of Sweet Land, from the regional innovative opera company called The Industry. That production was closed down because of the pandemic and we were able to capture it in its entirety. We will be presenting it for an audience and it’s going to be an exclusive opportunity for us to host the broadcast premiere of this opera.”
“The third episode is going to be a look at how Mariachi culture and music has been affected during this time. Mariachi music is a staple in Southern California and Mexican culture. Many of them are immigrant workers that come to do quinceaneras, birthday parties, weddings and things like that. So hundreds of workers have been impacted and you’d be surprised at how innovative they have been in keeping the tradition alive. So we are going to be looking into what they have been doing which is everything from singing to farm workers in the fields of Oxnard to virtual serenades and backyard sing-alongs.”
“We are really doing our very best to showcase the diversity of LA’s culture during COVID-19, with the presentation of orchestra music in Orange County to, as I mentioned, a backyard sing-alongs in East LA. This is what we have been up to. That is the variety that people are going to be able to see in the new show “Southland Sessions.” But most of all, it’s going to present the resiliency and the innovative spirit of the cultural capital of the world.”
The Hollywood Times thanks Juan Devis and Danielle Brazell for this interview.
With the Los Angeles Art Scene Forever Transformed, New Series Celebrates Resiliency of the Creative Community Featuring Diverse Array of Content from the Best of Local Arts and Culture, Ranging from Local Music and Dance to Poetry and Visual Arts
Select programming will also be available for streaming on PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the free PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast.
PBS station members get extended access to select programming via Passport.
Burbank, Calif. – KCET, Southern California’s home for award-winning public media programming, today announced SOUTHLAND SESSIONS, a new weekly series that will allow the Los Angeles community to experience their regional arts and cultural institutions in this unique moment, when attending in-person, cultural events is not an option. As regional artists adapt to an uncertain future due to the current pandemic and the influence of social uprisings across the country, the new broadcast and digital initiative draws together prominent voices from around Southern California for up-close, virtual “sessions.” Every Wednesday, viewers will witness artists inspire audiences with a front-row seat to the creative process, guided by the community’s arts leaders. The new series kicks off with a conversation among key cultural leaders from around the city, working together to discuss how arts and culture are essential to Angelenos. SOUTHLAND SESSIONS premieres on Wednesday, July 15 at 8 p.m. PT on KCET and will run through the end of the year.
SOUTHLAND SESSIONS will engage viewers across Southern California who are staying at home to stop the spread of coronavirus – an order that has changed the lives of everyone, and impacted the futures of auditoriums, concert halls, and art galleries across the region. The series will vary in format on a weekly basis showcasing a variety of artistic communities and programs across the city. SOUTHLAND SESSIONS is supported in part by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the National Endowment for the Arts. Episodes will feature diverse arts and cultural events, including DCA’s City of Los Angeles (COLA) Individual Artist Fellowships, Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival, and the annual Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival. The format will be a compilation of artist disciplines including music, dance, theater, spoken word, and poetry, capturing the immediacy of the region’s artists’ responses to COVID-19 and the racial, as well as social, injustices that are happening across the city and the nation.
The premiere episode of SOUTHLAND SESSIONS will explore how integral the arts and culture is to a community’s lifeblood and how it can become part of the solution to larger systemic issues in society. Over ten leaders from civic institutions across the city of Los Angeles participate in a virtual discussion as their organizations are re-evaluating their roles and re-focusing their energies to become an integral part of rebuilding sustainable institutions for the future. The episode will also feature poetry as written by local youth poets from the organization Get Lit. Hosted by KCET Chief Creative Officer Juan Devis, featured guests include General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Danielle Brazell, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Kristin Sakoda, Executive Director for Armory Center for the Arts Leslie Ito, California Institute of the Arts President Ravi S. Rajan, Self Help Graphics & Art Director Betty Avila and more.
In addition to the conversation with civic arts leaders across Los Angeles, upcoming episodes will feature the tradition of mariachi music in Los Angeles, the diverse dance community of the city, and a personal tour of DCA’s COLA program with local artists exhibiting their work through at-home interviews and virtual studio visits.
Several of the episodes will be produced in partnership with community cultural leaders including online cultural trendsetting radio station dublab, avant-garde opera company The Industry, artist/designer/writer Rosten Woo, San Fernando Valley’s performing arts center The Soraya on the CSUN campus, Orange County’s Pacific Symphony and many more. Later this year, KCET will put out a call for regional artists to submit their own content for future episodes.
Upcoming episodes of SOUTHLAND SESSIONS will air as follows (subject to change):
Wed., July 15 and Wed., Aug 5 at 8 p.m.: “Change(makers): The Future of Arts and Culture”
Key cultural leaders from around Los Angeles gather to discuss the role of arts and culture in shaping the world’s future. See how civic institutions are re-evaluating their roles in society and re-focusing their energies to become an integral part of rebuilding sustainable institutions for the future. Hear poetry inspired by the questions of the future written by young poets from Get Lit.
Wed., July 22 at 8 p.m.: “The Industry Presents Sweet Land”
The Industry, one of Los Angeles’s most innovative opera companies, continues their acclaimed experimental site-specific productions with a performance that disrupts the dominant narrative of American identity. Featuring an interview with The Industry’s Artistic Director Yuval Sharon.
Wed., July 29 and Wed., Aug 19 at 8 p.m.: “Mariachi: From Romance to Resistance”
Hosted by Mariachi musician Julian Torres, this episode explores the tradition of Mariachi music and its transformation through time and circumstance. See how groups are finding ways to survive and support one another like Las Catrinas‘s driveway serenades and Mariachi Aguilas de Oxnard who took to the fields to celebrate farmers. Featuring special performances by La Marisol and Quetzal.
Wed., Aug. 12 at 8 p.m.: “Dance Break”
Tour L.A.’s wild and diverse dance community in this showcase of the city’s vibrant scene. See uplifting homages to L.A. by aerial dancer Joe Pinzon and a parking lot turned performance space from Jacob Jonas. Explore how the body’s movements can reflect the community’s voice for change with Lula Washington and Infinite Flow. Hosted by Tamica Washington.
Wed., Aug. 26 at 8 p.m.: “Musical Expansions in Quarantine”
Witness the creativity of L.A.’s music scene during COVID-19, from drive-in performances and punk rocker exercise videos to musical tributes to the city’s iconic street vendors and food trucks. See how rhythms made from scavenged household items created during quarantine have kept communities inspired and moving to the beat in this episode made in collaboration with dublab.
The vibrancy and dynamism of L.A.’s arts and cultural scene will also be reflected online through a robust digital hub where viewers can find the creative community’s most engaging, uplifting content. Musical performances, dance presentations, poetry readings, art exhibitions, and more will be featured. Alongside these virtual presentations, local culture journalists will keep readers abreast of all things related to arts and culture in the time of pandemic and protest through artist profiles, gallery interviews, feature pieces, and arts news briefs. The SOUTHLAND SESSIONS digital destination will also include resources and how-tos detailing financial support and advice from other artists with ways to connect to gallerists, curators, and more.
Guided by the various art forms and themes highlighted in the new Wednesday night programming, KCET will also provide virtual audience engagement opportunities including live streaming events, discussions, arts classes/demonstrations, and more.
The new series SOUTHLAND SESSIONS will launch a robust Wednesday night of programming for KCET designed to highlight the resilience of the arts community. Under the theme “Create Wednesday,” the schedule will also feature popular Arts and Culture programs that have previously aired on KCET and PBS that include KCET’s Emmy® award-winning Original arts series ARTBOUND and student film showcase FINE CUT as well as America’s preeminent performing arts television series from PBS, GREAT PERFORMANCES. Like the new local series SOUTHLAND SESSIONS, the programming lineup for the night will feature diverse artistic innovation across all media and disciplines to celebrate art as an essential service.
The goal of the new programming lineup is to highlight Southern California as home to one of the most important cultural communities in the world. In addition to providing healing and solace to many, Los Angeles’ arts and cultural scene is a major source of income to millions in the local economy. Art and culture in Los Angeles are indelibly interwoven into the fabric of Southern California’s economic landscape and have an undeniably important role in shaping not only the culture of the region but also act as a powerful economic driver for the state and the rest of the nation.
For updates, follow @KCET and #SouthlandSessions and #CreateWednesday on social media.
On-air, online and in the community, KCET plays a vital role in the cultural and educational enrichment of Southern and Central California. KCET offers a wide range of award-winning local programming as well as the finest public television programs from around the world. Throughout its 54-year history, KCET has won hundreds of major awards for its local and regional news and public affairs programming, its national drama and documentary productions, its quality educational family and children’s programs, its outreach and community services and its website, kcet.org. KCET is a donor-supported community institution. For additional information about KCET productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org. Select original programming from KCET is also available for streaming on Apple TV, YouTube, Amazon and Roku platforms. For more information please visit kcet.org/apps. KCET is a content channel of the Public Media Group of Southern California.
About the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA)
As a leading, progressive arts and cultural agency, DCA empowers Los Angeles’s vibrant communities by supporting and providing access to quality visual, design, literary, musical, performing, and educational arts programming; managing vital cultural centers; preserving historic sites; creating public art; and funding services provided by arts organizations and individual artists. Formed in 1925, DCA promotes arts and culture as a way to ignite a powerful dialogue, engage LA’s residents and visitors, and ensure LA’s varied cultures are recognized, acknowledged, and experienced. DCA’s mission is to strengthen the quality of life in Los Angeles by stimulating and supporting arts and cultural activities, ensuring public access to the arts for residents and visitors alike. DCA advances the social and economic impact of arts and culture through grantmaking, public art, community arts, performing arts, and strategic marketing, development, design, and digital research. DCA creates and supports arts programming, maximizing relationships with other city agencies, artists, and arts and cultural nonprofit organizations to provide excellent service in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles. For more information, please visit culturela.org or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/culturela, Instagram @culture_la, and Twitter @culture_la.