After sipping wine and munching grilled fruit in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s entrance hall Wednesday, about 200 members of the Los Angeles arts scene witnessed the business at hand: a literal passing of the baton so that arts-impresarioship as a community-wide undertaking continues.
The passer was Los Angeles Opera, orchestrator not only of its own just-concluded production of Richard Wagner’s epic “Ring” cycle, but of the Ring Festival that sprang up around it, as 122 cultural organizations hitched themselves to the Wagnerian wagon and mounted their own exhibitions, performances, film screenings and talks, discussions and symposia related directly or tangentially to the composer and his magnum opus.
The recipient was the J. Paul Getty Trust, which is marshaling a regionwide project, “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980” that will start in the fall of 2011, with more than 50 participants enlisted, and counting.
The conductor’s baton, white with a tan cork handle, came from the desk of L.A. Opera’s music director, James Conlon, and bore his signature.
“We’re thrilled to accept this baton and the challenge it represents,” Deborah Marrow, interim president and chief executive of the J. Paul Getty Trust, said after L.A. Opera’s chief operating officer, Stephen Rountree, had passed it to her amid applause.
In an interview this week, Barry Sanders, the L.A. Opera board member who led the Ring Festival, said the festival had introduced a fruitful new math to Southern California’s cultural equation: “We were able to demonstrate that one and one equals three.”
He was referring to the synergy of having different cultural groups do their own things, at their own expense, but with a unifying theme. Sanders said that the early returns from an ongoing survey of festival participants shows that the organizations and their events enjoyed more exposure, and ultimately a bigger audience, than they were likely to reap for their typical stand-alone offerings.