CREATIVE ECON­OMY IN NUM­BERS

Business Traveller (India) - - DESTINATIONS -

TIN­SEL­TOWN GETS CERE­BRAL

Many peo­ple have dis­missed Los Angeles as a va­pid place to live, but its grow­ing sta­tus as a cul­tural cap­i­tal is gain­ing re­spect. It’s much de­served, when you con­sider it has some of the best mu­se­ums and gal­leries in the coun­try, in­clud­ing the Getty, e Broad and LACMA, which will be ex­panded by 2023 thanks to a US$600 mil­lion in­vest­ment that will see its cam­pus ex­tended over Wil­shire Boule­vard with the ad­di­tion of the LACMA Build­ing for the Per­ma­nent Col­lec­tion. ( e new nearby Wil­shire/ Fair­fax sub­way sta­tion will open at around the same time.) Run­ning from Septem­ber 2017 to Jan­uary 2018, “Paci c Stan­dard Time LA/LA” was an am­bi­tious four­month ex­hi­bi­tion of Latin Amer­i­can and Latino cul­ture with works by 1,100 artists

from 45 coun­tries dis­played across more than 70 venues in LA and the wider state. It’s en­deav­ours like these that are in­spir­ing an in ux of ta­lent.

With a grow­ing com­mu­nity of cre­atives comes innovation, which means LA is also lead­ing the way when it comes to ev­ery­thing from food trends to the ex­pe­ri­ence econ­omy (Airbnb Experiences lists dozens of ac­tiv­i­ties you can book with a lo­cal, such as vinyl record shop­ping with a Grammy award-winning artist). Los Angeles has been

a health-con­scious city for decades, but it’s amaz­ing to see the num­ber of juice bars, or­ganic su­per­mar­kets, pro­tein shake stands and veg­e­tar­ian/ve­gan restau­rants. Stop by Cafe Grat­i­tude, for ex­am­ple (there are four out­posts in the city) and you can or­der beer-bat­tered co­conut “cala­mari” and blue al­gae su­per­food smooth­ies; Gra­cias Madre on Mel­rose, which has a Mediter­ranean-style gar­den, serves “crab” cakes made from hearts of palm, Mex­i­can que­sadil­las slathered in cashew cheese and “high vibes”

Over the next four years, LA's creative econ­omy will grow by more than ve per cent

cock­tails in­fused with cannabid­iol CBD oil (mar­i­juana use is now le­gal in Cal­i­for­nia).

At an­other restau­rant called Ys­abel,

I nd it has given over its bar for a few nights to lo­cal cock­tail maestro Matthew Bian­caniello, who spe­cialises in savoury and edi­ble drinks. He be­gins by en­thu­si­as­ti­cally serv­ing new ar­rivals cups of al­co­holic French onion soup made with in­gre­di­ents from the lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­ket. A er spend­ing four and a half years bar­tend­ing at the Hol­ly­wood Roo­sevelt Ho­tel’s Li­brary Bar, he is now fo­cus­ing on pop­ups such as this, where he can be truly in­ven­tive, mix­ing the likes of Ogo sea­weed tequila with lemon guava, curry leaves and fresh chamomile; and shi­itake mush­room­in­fused bour­bon with berg­amot vodka, blood or­ange, smoked jalapeño and arugula (rocket) blos­soms.

It’s not with­out its chal­lenges, though, Bian­caniello says. “Since I have been liv­ing here, so many places have opened and LA seems to be so ckle when it comes to longevity. Rents are high and it is in­creas­ingly di cult for restau­rants to main­tain them­selves. ere are too many op­tions avail­able and peo­ple are con­stantly look­ing for the hottest spots. Not hav­ing my own lab­o­ra­tory to re­ally build upon what I am do­ing is di cult too. Even­tu­ally, I would very much love to open my own tast­ing menu bar in Los Angeles or have a trav­el­ling one that goes around the world.”

WHERE THE COOL KIDS ARE

ere are lots of trendy hotspots such as Ab­bot Kin­ney, Echo Park, Sil­ver Lake and Los Feliz emerg­ing across LA these days, but one area that has seen signi cant change in terms of the creative econ­omy is Down­town. It’s im­pos­si­ble to miss, be­ing the only clus­ter of high-rise build­ings in an oth­er­wise low-rise city. Es­sen­tially the cen­tral busi­ness district, its make-up has been chang­ing. It’s be­come more res­i­den­tial and, over the past ve years or so, the old ware­houses and lo s have been taken over by artists. Gen­tri cation has swi ly fol­lowed and, now, be­yond the apoc­a­lyp­tic bor­der of Skid Row, where des­per­ate drug ad­dicts and home­less peo­ple live in tents on the pave­ment (out­ra­geous to see in a state as wealthy as Cal­i­for­nia), you’ll nd the full edged Arts District and some of the most ex­pen­sive real es­tate in LA.

e Arts District has the fa­mil­iar feel of New York’s Brook­lyn or London’s Shored­itch with mu­rals on the sides of build­ings, hip­ster bou­tiques, neon sign work­shops, cold-brew co ee­houses, ice cream par­lours, brew­eries, dis­til­leries, con­cept stores, co-work­ing spa­ces and gal­leries such as Hauser & Wirth, which also has a chic bistro called Manuela next door and a mini ur­ban farm with chick­ens. As artists are evicted or forced to move on be­cause of in ated rents, cor­po­rates are tak­ing the op­por­tu­nity to reap the bene ts of this new walk­a­ble neigh­bour­hood. e Hyper­loop World Head­quar­ters has moved to the Arts District; there’s the Los Angeles Clean­tech In­cu­ba­tor; and Warner Mu­sic will be re­lo­cat­ing from its head­quar­ters in Burbank. De­signer Phillip Lim and Dover Street Mar­ket will be open­ing stores later this year.

Chris Rico says: “I le LA for San Fran­cisco between 2010 and 2014 be­cause I got tired of the fact that the only thing any­body ever talked about was ‘ e Busi­ness’. It was al­ways what sucked the oxy­gen out of the room – even in the LA Times, the whole busi­ness sec­tion was about Hol­ly­wood. So I went to San Fran­cisco seek­ing a place where there was a di­ver­sity of thought and ideas, and in the time I was there, LA and San Fran­cisco switched places. With the ar­rival of Dot­com 2.0, San Fran­cisco be­came a one con­ver­sa­tion town – all any­one talks about is what app they are build­ing. LA, mean­while, has this com­ple­ment of new tech­nol­ogy, aero­space, au­tonomous ve­hi­cles, fash­ion, dig­i­tal me­dia and art. Movies are not the only thing that peo­ple talk about now.”

He con­tin­ues: “If you think about Char­lie Chap­lin, Howard Hughes and Walt Dis­ney, peo­ple like that were what de ned Los Angeles as this place for dream­ers. En­ter the present day and you have new dream­ers such as Elon Musk [founder of Space X, Tesla and Hyper­loop] and Evan Spiegel, who cre­ated Snapchat and de­cided to keep it in LA be­cause of the creative econ­omy and how in­te­gral that was to its o er­ing, even though many of its ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists were des­per­ately try­ing to get him to move to Sil­i­con Val­ley. I think what is hap­pen­ing in LA right now is you are see­ing that con­ver­gence, where you have all of these artists and new tech­nol­ogy. When you get into de­sign­ing rock­ets and imag­in­ing fu­ture modes of trans­porta­tion, for ex­am­ple, it’s very creative.”

By the time of LA’s Olympic Games in 2028, Rico pre­dicts the city will look very di er­ent. ere will be a new light rail and metro sys­tem (pub­lic trans­port is se­verely lack­ing right now). Mean­while Musk’s Bor­ing Com­pany has al­ready started dig­ging tun­nels be­neath the city for a new kind of trans­port sys­tem in which cars are shut­tled be­neath the roads on drive-on, drive-o “skates”. ere will prob­a­bly be self-driving cars too, so in­stead of get­ting an­gry at be­ing stuck in tra c, you can sit back and en­joy watch­ing Avatar 4.

ABOVE: LA street art

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