play / 2015

Kensington Presents: Free outdoor arts programming for all ages with California State Parks

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Kensington Presents

In close partnership with the California State Parks Department, we’ll continue the evolution of Kensington Presents from our front porch in Angeleno Heights, to a yearlong series at the Viaduct. Throughout the year, we’ll transform the Viaduct, a magical urban park, into a thriving community arts space celebrating local artists, engaging local businesses, and inviting Angelenos of all ages to enjoy eclectic programs in a safe, clean, fun park setting in the heart of the city.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Downtown LA/Chinatown

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program

How will your proposal improve the following “Play” metrics?

  • Access to open space and park facilities
  • Percentage of residents that feel safe in their neighborhoods
  • Residents within 1⁄4 mile of a park (Dream Metric)
  • Number of residents with easy access to a “vibrant” park (Dream Metric)
  • Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities (Dream Metric)
  • Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to play.

“Arts and cultural programming is a new, but vital, venture for California’s urban State Parks. A creative partnership with Kensington allows State Parks to experiment in this area, outside of our realm of expertise, and offer cultural programming that is engaging, inclusive, culturally relevant, and reflective of the city’s history.” –Stephanie Campbell, Acting Superintendent, California State Parks

A Neighborhood Project: Kensington Presents is a community-driven, donation-based series of arts programming that started on a front porch in the historic neighborhood of Angeleno Heights. We had 24 different acts take the stage in the first two years alone, including musicians from the LA Philharmonic, opera singers, local bluegrass and gospel bands, harpists, Chinese fiddlers, and mariachi.

From the Porch to the Park: We’ve been lucky to connect with The California State Parks to expand our programming to The Viaduct, a hidden gem of a public park in Downtown LA. We’ve already activated it twice, once for a screening of the Passion of Joan of Arc with a live score by a string quartet and chamber choir, and once for a bluegrass and gospel concert and BBQ. Both shows were at capacity with 300+ attendees.

A Full Year of Programs: We’re asking for your vote to get us in the running for LA2050 so that we can grow our partnership with the California State Parks in 2016 and provide an eclectic and inviting yearlong series of free arts programming to the community.

Educational Outreach: In an effort to engage more communities, families and especially kids across the city, we’ll hold four seasonal workshops, either at a local school or on-site at the Viaduct. We’ll also feature one or more youth groups as opening acts at our events, reaching out to school-based jazz, rock, classical, hip-hop or marching bands.

A Great Place to Play: We would use these funds to extend across the year and across genres, to pay the performers and a lean team of producers, and to make sure that our events remain free to the public. We think of our events less as traditional events and more as immersive experiences, each one a jewel box of local treasures: food vendors, artisans and other small business and arts orgs. We’ll maintain the sense of fun that’s defined our Kensington series for the last two years and bring that spirit of play to a larger community, at larger scale, and draw many families and friends to attend a State Park for the very first time.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

  • Number of total attendees at Kensington Presents events at California State Parks locations
  • Audience members visiting a California State Park for the first time
  • Audience members reporting the first time they’ve seen a particular style of arts programming (gospel, electronic, opera, classical music, silent film, physical theater etc.)
  • Number of kids that attend our seasonal workshops and events -Adoption and open rates of our e-newsletter -Visitors and viewership for our site, where we highlight upcoming shows and showcase professional video of each event
  • Positive reactions of audience members via social media (#kensingtonpresents #thisiswhyiloveLA)

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research