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Arroyo Seco Foundation

News of the Arroyo


Making the Arroyo Seco Music and Arts Festival green





<b>April 21, 2016</b> - The Arroyo Seco Music and Arts Festival won't truly be a success unless it is environmentally sensitive.


Editorial Board


Pasadena Star-News


An aerial map of the performance stages for the Arroyo Seco Music and Arts Festival coming in June 2017.

Knowing that the entrepreneurial Rose Bowl needs financial shoring up and that Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley enjoy a good time, we’ve been supportive of the proposed Arroyo Seco Music and Arts Festival.

Now that the proposal has turned into a coming reality with the approval by the Pasadena City Council of the pitch by the parent company of the wildly successful Coachella to being a similar fest here in June 2017, for at least three and up to 15 years to come, we still celebrate the coming celebration, and congratulate the city and the Rose Bowl Operating Company on negotiating good terms with festival operator Goldenvoice.

But now that we’ve been so supportive, the good news gives us a chance to also weigh in with caveats and a wish list for the kind of festival that will be welcomed by not just concert-goers but by Arroyo Seco neighbors, citizens of Pasadena and surrounding cities and the arts and music community.

Let’s get that “Arts” bit out in the sunlight first of all. Anyone who has been to the Coachella Music and Arts Festival at the expansive polo grounds in Indio knows that while the popular music can sometimes be of the highest quality, with some of the greatest pop and rock acts extant having graced its stages over the years, the artistic merit of the so-called art can be at best questionable. Big tied-together rainbow arches of helium-filled balloons or funhouse mirrors set in the middle of a lawn are momentarily diverting, but they are not art, which challenges, and is wise, not bland.

It’s good to hear that there have been private meetings between local arts groups and City Hall cultural power brokers preparatory to including art in what will be for economic reasons a mostly music-oriented event. But, given the high quality of Pasadena arts institutions, let’s make sure that input from their leaders is paid attention to and that real rather than mock art is at least a small part of the weekend. With the Armory, the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the Pacific Asia Museum, Side Street Projects, Art Center College of Design, the Norton Simon — and so many others — all within a loudspeaker’s distance of the Arroyo, it would be an artistic crime not to include them in the festival.

Neighbors concerned about traffic and pollution might consider promoting what is not being considered: allowing camping out at the surrounding Brookside Golf Course rather than festival-goers coming and going for two or three days. But that is perhaps too logical for the ongoing emotional war of words about Rose Bowl usage.

One promise from city officials is entirely counter-productive: to block anyone from entering the central Arroyo Seco who doesn’t have a pass for the event or a residential placard. Access to the semi-wilderness area is already too restrictive way too many weekends a year for every disease charity walk and mud-soaked mini-marathon as it is. Those who can walk, run or bike to the Arroyo should never be turned away from non-ticketed venues.

And joining Arroyo activist Tim Martinez’s crusade to ensure the festival is environmentally friendly by installing trash screens on all storm drains, insisting crews not leave plastic zip ties from temporary fencing and discouraging plastic water bottles and plastic straws would go a long way to making the Arroyo fest truly green.




Arroyo Seco Foundation, PO Box 91622, Pasadena, CA 91109-1622 (323) 405-7326