Some Arts and Culture Highlights As 2019 Comes to a Close

Published : Wednesday, December 25, 2019 | 11:27 AM

The Pasadena arts and culture scene enjoyed a year of change and success. Record-setting theater runs, changes in organizational leadership, and endowments that enriched local institutions buoyed 2019.

The Pasadena Playhouse, according to certain metrics, enjoyed its most successful-ever theater run with “Little Shop of Horrors,” starring British thespian James Corden.

“Sometimes we have longer runs or shorter runs, but it was certainly among the top-selling musicals in history here,” said Danny Feldman, the theater’s Producing Artistic Director. “It got lots of attention.”

That attention included American Theater Magazine’s naming the production one of the top ten stories for 2019, coverage in the New York Times, and an appearance on the Late Show that has garnered 600,000-plus views on YouTube.

“So, yes, it was a big deal,” said Feldman, who noted that the September 17-through-October 20 run was preceded by another successful production in the form of E.L. Doctorow’s “Ragtime.”

Kidspace Museum celebrated its 40th anniversary with a new National Endowment for the Arts-funded installation.

The ArtWorks grant funds an artist-in-residence program with Viviana Palacio and Keith Patterson of Cloud Formation Lab. The pair are creating an interactive installation on the museum’s campus and running workshops throughout the year.

Kidspace did say goodbye to Chief Executive Officer Michael Shanklin after eight years at the helm and is currently involved in the search for a replacement.

The Huntington Art Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens enjoyed a productive year as it prepared for its 2020 centennial celebration.

Dennis and Susan R. Shapiro made a financial endowment and donated 340 rare items focused on American presidential administrations from the 18th century to the early 20th centuries.

These include correspondence between John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams.

The Huntington commissioned installations by Los Angeles-based artist Lita Albuquerque and Chicago-based Luftwerk for showing in the Japanese and Australian gardens respectively.

The installations are scheduled for the second half of 2020.

The Huntington also named Janet Alberti new chief financial officer following a nationwide search.

There were leadership changes at USC Pacific Asia Museum, which gained a new director in the form of Dr. Bethany Montagano. Dr. Montagano’s prior arrangement was with the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where she served as senior Curator.

Boston Court Pasadena also saw a change in leadership wherein Jessica Kubzansky, a founding artistic director who shared the title with Michael Michetti, will be the company’s sole artistic director.

Near the Arroyo, the future of the Gamble House headed into a new direction as the City of Pasadena approved the transfer of its operations from the University of Southern California to the newly organized Gamble House Conservancy, a local nonprofit purposely established to protect and preserve the property to “nationally recognized standards of conservation.”

The transfer will require court approval, since the original donors and the signers of the agreement are deceased, but is expected soon.






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