Venice is recognized as being the home of an eclectic arts and music community, from its historical ties to legendary acts such as The Doors to the street performers who grab the attention of crowds along the Boardwalk.
But one thing some see as missing from the coastal community’s music scene has been a regular concert series at Venice Beach.
Longtime Venice resident and record producer Michael “Micky” Schuman is looking to change that by proposing a free weekly music series on Saturdays near the Windward Plaza and Ocean Front Walk at Venice Beach.
The proposal originally called for concerts to take place beginning in the middle of this month through October, but Schuman is now hoping to kick off the new series with two concerts in both September and October initially.
A self-described “music lover,” Schuman says he has envisioned having a regular music series on the beach for 15 years and has wondered why such an event has been missing from Venice, which has a close connection to music and the arts.
“Venice Beach is an arts mecca and it has always been about the artists and the music,” said Schuman, who produced the music performances at the Abbot Kinney Festival in Venice for three years, until last year.
Schuman and other music industry professionals promoting the series envision having well-known artists and bands from around the world performing at the shows. The proposed series would also feature live art performances and special guests.
While the events would showcase various genres of music, including jazz, rock, pop, country, classical and rhythm-and-blues, Schuman stresses that the music will be “family-friendly.” Among the bands that have expressed interest in performing are The Bonedaddys, Venice, Lane Four and Wild Youth, Schuman said.
“We want to start a new culturally enriching, family-friendly concert series for free at Venice Beach,” Schuman said. “Venice Beach belongs to the people and if you ask the people if they want a concert series, they’re going to tell you yes.”
Associate series producer Bobby Bragg added, “What we envision are high quality events and a series offering continuity, not only in the quality of the performance acts but in the way the events are held and executed.”
The proposed concerts would begin around noon and end before sunset, with the stage located near the skate park area and bicycle path and facing toward the beach, directing much of the noise away from the Boardwalk, event promoters say.
Schuman noted that the proposal has received support from several community officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Councilman Bill Rosendahl. Event organizers have also met with local police and fire department representatives to discuss the plans.
Rosendahl expressed his support for the pilot program of four initial events, saying the series can help create profit-making opportunities for Venice.
“Venice is a public space of international renown. I’m always up for innovative, creative ways in which we can maximize Venice Beach,” the councilman said.
“This is an addition to the community and we’ll see how it works.”
Schuman presented the concert plan Monday, August 4th, at a joint meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council Arts and Ocean Front Walk committees, which voted to recommend that the Neighborhood Council issue a letter of support for the proposal. The Neighborhood Council will consider the letter of support recommendation at its meeting scheduled Tuesday, August 19th.
Prior to the committees’ vote, some residents praised the series, saying that it would bring a new addition to Venice’s music scene and help boost business with people coming to the beach.
“If this got off the ground [Ö] someone might see it and get inspired to be the next great artist,” resident Brad Mills told the committees.
Former Venice Neighborhood Council president DeDe Audet also offered her support for the series after the meeting.
“I think it’s wonderful and it’s in tune with what Venice was,” Audet said.
But others, including residents who live near the Venice Beach Boardwalk, have expressed concerns with beach concerts, including noise, increased traffic, large crowds, security issues and sanitation problems.
At a Neighborhood Council meeting last month, Academy Award-winning actress Anjelica Huston, who lives near the beach, told the council members she has concerns with such a concert series, particularly regarding noise.
Attorney John Murdock told the Arts and Ocean Front Walk committees that the proposal should have been presented in a more rigorous fashion.
“You are being asked to approve a series that has not been vetted through the public process,” Murdock told the committees.
Schuman tried to ease concerns regarding noise, saying he has extensive experience dealing with sound quality at events, and that during his time producing the Abbot Kinney Festival music shows, he never received complaints related to noise levels.
Referring to increased crowd complaints, the series promoter said Venice Beach is usually busy on Saturdays, but he has considered the crowd issue by having adequate security and encouraging alternative transportation such as bicycles and shuttles.
As Schuman looks to get the support of the Neighborhood Council and begin the initial series of concerts later this summer, he is hoping to have his vision of free high-quality music shows at Venice Beach finally become a reality.
“This will enrich the cultural identity of Venice Beach and will brand Venice as a place that puts on high quality concerts,” he said. “The series will not only bring good music to the community but a new historical event that will help improve the image of our community.”