Culture, From Center to Fringe

A Cirque du Soleil clown squirts a patron with his camera. His acrobatic friends dazzle with strength, agility and theatricality. Mimi, as one of our reporters wrote, dies on schedule in "La Boheme." A South African policeman confronts the injustice of the system that he serves. The theater-goer savors ancient epics in the Mahabharata, and new music and dance at venues all over town. The Los Angeles Arts Festival and its offspring, the Fringe Festival, are well under way.

There are those who wonder whether the festivals, an outgrowth of the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, can survive the departure of founding father Robert J. Fitzpatrick. He takes his energies now to Euro Disneyland, and that is the city's loss. But the energy unleashed under the big tent on 1st Street or on stage at the Los Angeles Theater Center, among other places, surely can be replicated behind the scenes as well.

Whether it is or not, this Los Angeles Arts Festival--like the openings of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Anderson wing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art--marks another step in Southern California's march onto the nation's cultural stage. We look to the future with anticipation, but for now we celebrate the present with laughter, tears, awe, whatever fits--and with generous applause for the artists and the crews that are making it work.

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