USC gets Fes­ti­val of Books

Los Angeles Times - - Latextra - Larry Gor­don

The Los An­ge­les Times Fes­ti­val of Books will move its week­end-long cel­e­bra­tion of the writ­ten word to the USC cam­pus next spring af­ter 15 years across town at UCLA, of­fi­cials an­nounced Wed­nes­day.

The change of venue to USC’s main Uni­ver­sity Park cam­pus south of down­town Los An­ge­les will of­fer a more cen­tral lo­ca­tion, bet­ter ac­cess to pub­lic trans­porta­tion, eas­ier park­ing and the use of newly ex­panded uni­ver­sity fa­cil­i­ties for the an­nual event, lead­ers of the news­pa­per and USC said.

The de­ci­sion came af­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween The

Times and UCLA foundered over dif­fer­ences about how to re­duce and share ex­penses, as well as some lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral peo­ple with knowl­edge of the talks. A UCLA spokesman said state bud­get cuts to the UC sys­tem also have made it more dif­fi­cult in re­cent years for the cam­pus to bear its share of fes­ti­val costs.

The 16th Los An­ge­les Times Fes­ti­val of Books is sched­uled for April 30 and May 1, 2011.

It will fea­ture the tra­di­tional ar­ray of lec­tures by au­thors, book sign­ings, mu­si­cal per­for­mances and sales booths that have made it a ma­jor event in the city’s cul­tural life and the nation’s largest pub­lic lit­er­ary fes­ti­val. Last year, an es­ti­mated 140,000 peo­ple at­tended the event at UCLA’s cam­pus in West­wood.

“Af­ter 15 years on the West­side, we are very ex­cited to move the Fes­ti­val of Books to its beau­ti­ful new home and have the op­por­tu­nity to work hand in hand with USC to en­sure we grow big­ger and bet­ter in the fu­ture,” Times Pub­lisher Eddy Harten­stein said in a state­ment. “At­ten­dees and ex­hibitors can ex­pect more to see, do and ex­pe­ri­ence in ad­di­tion to great ac­cess and a re­fresh­ing change of scenery.”

USC Pres­i­dent C.L. Max Nikias said he was de­lighted to pro­vide the fes­ti­val a new home.

“The fes­ti­val is a great fit for our world-class fac­ulty au­thors and writ­ing pro­grams, as well as for our lit­er­acy work in the com­mu­nity,” Nikias said. “USC and the Los An­ge­les Times are two of the old­est in­sti­tu­tions in Los An­ge­les, and it’s fit­ting that we would be join­ing to­gether for this event that is so im­por­tant to the in­tel­lec­tual life of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.”

The new agree­ment is for three years with an ex­pec­ta­tion for long-term re­newals af­ter that. Fi­nan­cial ar­range­ments be­tween the news­pa­per and USC were not dis­closed.

Lawrence Lok­man, as­so­ci­ate vice chan­cel­lor for com­mu­ni­ca­tions at UCLA, said his cam­pus had hoped to con­tinue ne­go­ti­at­ing with The Times to find a way to keep the fes­ti­val there. “We are dis­ap­pointed by this news but not sur­prised,” Lok­man said. He said that many fes­ti­val-go­ers “surely will miss at­tend­ing the event on the West­wood cam­pus and we will miss hav­ing them here.”

Lok­man said the ne­go­ti­a­tions re­flected fi­nan­cial pres­sures on both sides. He said the uni­ver­sity took in more than $300,000 in rev­enues from fes­ti­val park­ing and food sales last spring, de­fray­ing such costs as cus­to­di­ans’ pay and elec­tric­ity, but still had $176,000 in re­main­ing ex­penses. Such an out­lay would have been dif­fi­cult for the uni­ver­sity to con­tinue, he said.

Times spokes­woman Nancy Sul­li­van de­clined to dis­cuss the dis­agree­ments with UCLA or give an es­ti­mate on the fes­ti­val’s over­all costs.

“The Times has shared a long, suc­cess­ful his­tory with UCLA and we in­tend to con­tinue to col­lab­o­rate with them on other events and projects far into the fu­ture,” she said.

UCLA is a larger cam­pus, but USC spokesman James Grant said his uni­ver­sity had plenty of room for the fes­ti­val’s many out­door ac­tiv­i­ties and indoor sem­i­nars and lec­tures. He said he ex­pected the fes­ti­val to be an­chored at the cam­pus lawns and plazas near Do­heny Me­mo­rial Li­brary and Leavey Li­brary.

Jay L. Clen­denin

LONG HIS­TORY: For­mer as­tro­naut Buzz Aldrin was in­ter­viewed by The Times’ Patt Mor­ri­son at this year’s Fes­ti­val of Books on the UCLA cam­pus. Talks be­tween The Times and UCLA about con­tin­u­ing the event at UCLA foundered over cost and lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues.

Steve Cohn

A NEW ERA: USC Pres­i­dent C.L. Max Nikias, left, and Times Pub­lisher Eddy Harten­stein at USC’s Uni­ver­sity Park cam­pus, site of the fes­ti­val.

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