L.A. Festival Reveals Deficit of $270,000 for Its 1990 Season : Arts: The director of the event says the shortfall had been much larger. A $500,000 CRA grant for the ’93 festival has been approved by the City Council.


Nearly 15 months after folding its many tents, the Los Angeles Festival has announced results of an audit showing it has a deficit of $270,000 for the 1990 events--the first deficit since the triennial festival was launched in 1984.

But festival director Peter Sellars expressed confidence Friday that the deficit, already whittled down from $700,000, will be pared further through a series of fund-raisers, foundation grants and appeals to the festival’s 65,000 donors and ticket-buyers.

Sellars blamed the shortfall on the economy and the $5.6-million festival’s ambitious multicultural program, which focused on the Pacific Rim and imported artists from two dozen countries. About 400 events were offered.

“We had no map, no guidelines for much of what we ventured into,” he said. “We didn’t engage ballet companies; we brought entire villages of people.”


As festival officials endeavored to settle last year’s debts, they picked up a major 1993 grant when the Los Angeles City Council this week approved $500,000 in funding by the Community Redevelopment Agency.

The CRA contributed $375,000 to the 1990 festival, which staged events at 35 locations in or near redevelopment areas, and has already kicked in another $125,000 this year to help retire the debt and begin raising money for 1993. Sellars said the new grant, described by festival officials as a “onetime gift,” will be used exclusively for the next festival, not to defray the current deficit.

Diana Webb, deputy chief of operations for the CRA, said by giving money to the festival her agency is able to impose certain conditions. The agreement requires the festival to offer reduced-price tickets to students, senior citizens and low-income people, and to hold events “to the greatest extent possible” in or adjacent to redevelopment areas.

Another sizable grant is expected from the city’s Cultural Affairs Department, which gave the 1990 festival $225,000. “We’re starting to look at ways to fund the festival on a yearly basis,” said Adolfo V. Nodal, the department’s general manager, adding that the events are now “a piece of the city’s infrastructure.”


To be held from Aug. 17 to Sept. 6, the 1993 festival will emphasize the Middle East and Africa. The budget--to be determined by the board of directors next spring--is expected to total about $6 million, Sellars said. About $900,000 has been raised from foundations, apart from the CRA grant, he added.

“We’re where we should be,” he said, noting that the festival is getting an earlier jump on fund raising than it did last time.

Sellars, who was criticized for being out of town for extensive periods preceding the 1990 festival, said he expects to do far less traveling during the next two years.