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Los Angeles Highlights Role as Creative Center


Los Angeles gets little respect as an artistic or cultural center from its rivals on the East Coast, such as New York or Boston, but the sprawling West Coast city is highlighting its role as a creative hub. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan has details.

Even its critics acknowledge that Los Angeles has wonderful weather and impressive scenery. And it is home to the entertainment industry, with all its glitz and glamour.

Yet Los Angeles receives only grudging recognition as a creative center.

Jon Goodman, who heads the civic group Town Hall Los Angeles, says art and technology are converging in L.A., where movies are made with computer software, and medical schools use entertainment technology to train students to interact with patients.

"Twenty-first century art, design and entertainment requires technology," he said. "The real convergence is not TV going to the computer, or movies going to computer. The real convergence is technology, art and design all coming together."

Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry uses computer-generated designs to create architectural landmarks like the Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

Gehry and Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came to another cultural center, the Getty Museum, to launch the campaign promoting Los Angeles as a creative center. The promotion features a full month of activities, ranging from art shows and museum exhibits to dramatic performances. The mayor says the city is due for some recognition.

"This is an opportunity for us to celebrate what LA is all about," said Mayor Villaraigosa. "It is a place of many, many cultures. It is the place where the world comes together, where immigrants come like Frank Gehry from Canada, with a dream, and live that dream in a way that makes us all feel so special."

Gehry came to Los Angeles at age 17. Now 78, he has spent his career in the city, a place he says is not bound by traditions and orthodoxies.

"It is an open system here, maybe because it is so dispersed," he said. "And it has been under the radar. It is nice to focus on it."

Don Levy, a senior vice president for Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment, says Los Angeles is a center for all kinds of innovation.

"Creativity is not limited to the arts," he said. "Creativity is really about imagination, and imagination is really the underpinning of virtually all innovation. That includes science, medicine and business. And Los Angeles is a city filled with imaginative people looking at new ways to present ideas, fashion, design, technology, as well as entertainment."

Los Angeles officials say creative endeavors are also good for business, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs and injecting $13 billion a year into the local economy.

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