We have received several e-mails and posts to our website (www.www.smdp.com) regarding the nocturnal art event Glow and how horribly disappointed people were with last Saturday’s event.
We say to those people, don’t be a party pooper.
Any event involving artistic expression is going to be hit or miss because that is the nature of art. Not everyone is going to like it. But one’s taste in art should not be the determining factor in judging Glow’s success.
We must look at how the event was organized and executed, whether or not there were any significant incidents of violence, and the imaginative event’s impact on our local economy. Looking at all three of those categories, it is clear that Glow was a benefit to the community despite its roughly $600,000 price tag, $100,000 of which came from City Hall with the rest raised from fees, grants and other sources.
That is a small price to pay (although, we still do not know what the police department spent on security for the event) for an art show that attracted an estimated 150,000 people to the beach, Santa Monica Pier and Downtown. Hotels were booked and several businesses we spoke with said they saw larger crowds than on a typical Saturday night, helping drive sales at a time when consumer spending is in the tank. City Hall was also able to generate some revenue from parking fees at our Downtown lots.
But more important than the immediate economic benefits of Glow is the long-term impression people have when they think of Santa Monica. Events like Glow, Cirque du Soleil, Ashes and Snow and the L.A. Marathon bolster Santa Monica’s reputation of being a progressive city that offers world-class entertainment while encouraging healthy, active lifestyles. This is what attracts tourists from all over the world, tourists who still have money to spend while many locals don’t.
We need to support events like Glow that pay dividends many years after they have gone. We cannot let a few naysayers pressure City Hall into adopting an isolationist philosophy. We agree that there were some problems with Glow, mostly the decision to cut off bus routes at 11th Street, forcing people to walk long distances to the event. However, we understand that with any large-scale event there will be a few problems. The point is, no one was seriously injured, thousands had fun and Santa Monica businesses benefited.
We dig Glow and can’t wait until the next installment, which we believe will be better than the last as city officials learn from their mistakes. As for the art, well, it is in the eye of the beholder.