This post has been corrected. Please see note at the bottom for details.
The first Radar L.A. Festival is officially a thing of the past, and now the question on many people's minds is: Will it be back?
Organized by REDCAT and featuring theater groups from around the world, the festival was an attempt to bring a critical mass of stage performances to L.A. The festival was produced in collaboration with Center Theatre Group and The Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival in New York.
Times theater critic Charles McNulty recently described the inaugural festival as "a success, even if the pleasures weren't to be found in the discovery of mini-masterworks but in fleeting encounters with what can only be described as pure theatricality. The eight shows I sampled offered intermittent delights as well as occasional frustrations."
Radar L.A. coincided with the annual Theater Communications Group conference, held this summer in L.A., which brought theater professionals from around the country to downtown. It also coincided with the Hollywood Fringe Festival, another relatively new event.
Mark Murphy, the executive director of REDCAT, recently spoke about Radar L.A. and offered his thoughts on how the first festival transpired and what the future might hold.
How many people attended the festival?
Initial attendance figures are over 10,000, but where it will land exactly, we don't know -- maybe somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000. But we haven't tabulated everything yet. Overall, buying single tickets was the exception rather than rule.
Will Radar become an annual event?
We don't know yet. We had discussions about it. The funding subsidy we had in place was for the current year only -- it was in the neighborhood of $750,000 and covered production costs, artists fees, marketing and publicity. About half of international groups had travel subsidies from their country of origin, so travel expense wasn't too great. The largest single item in the budget was artist fees. The funding subsidy was a mix of private and public support, including Boeing, the Irvine Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation as well as a mix of support from the NEA and the Department of Cultural Affairs L.A.
One of the arguments made in fundraising for Radar was that we were taking advantage of the TCG conference [which took place in L.A. this year]. What would change if we tried to do something like this when the conference is not happening here? We're also exploring the possibility that it may be something that may happen the year after next. Or it could just be a once in a lifetime opportunity.