Best of 2010: 10 Los Angeles Event Industry Highlights

By Alesandra Dubin December 13, 2010, 11:00 AM EST

The final Women's Conference under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Maria Shriver grew to three days in 2010.

Photo: Gold/Wong Photography

As part of our Best of 2010 look back at the last year, we asked our local editors to share their—admittedly subjective—take on the most important things to happen in their markets this year. Here's what Los Angeles bureau chief Alesandra Dubin had to say.

1. Maria Shriver's Final Women's Conference
With change coming to the California governor's office, this year's Women's Conference was the last in its current incarnation for hosts Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was also the conference's largest showing, with more than 140 top speakers and participants, including Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, Oprah Winfrey, and many more. They drew a sold-out crowd to the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. In response to the high demand—tickets were gone in one hour, beating last year's record of two—organizers expanded the event to three full days, with an additional health- and wellness-focused day, Shriver’s March on Alzheimer’s, and a Broadway-style show for 900, increasing attendee capacity by 7,000, and bringing the total conference attendance to more than 30,000.

2. A New Route for the L.A. Marathon
After a move from its traditional timing in March to May in 2009, the marathon moved back up to March 21. A new route, dubbed “Stadium to Sea,” was intended to draw locals as well as participants from around the world to show off the city’s best features on a sightseeing tour from Dodger Stadium, through downtown, Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills and on to the Veterans Administration grounds and the finish line in Santa Monica. The marathon drew a capacity crowd of 25,000 registrants—the first time in the race’s 25-year history that it sold out and a 45 percent increase over 2009.

3. Coachella's New Ticketing Results
The sold-out Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival returned to the desert this spring with a conspicuously more massive throng—and new sponsors like American Express. The festival again presented a packed and eclectic lineup of close to 130 acts. The headliners were Muse, Gorillaz, and Jay-Z, who concluded the opening-night program at close to 1 a.m. (which marked a new, later curfew) with fireworks and a cameo by Beyoncé. Banking on the 11-year-old festival's popularity, Goldenvoice, led by Paul Tollett, for the first time sold only complete three-day packages, at a cost of $269. All 75,000 of them sold out by the time the event began its run from April 16 to 18 on the 90-acre Empire Polo Field in Indio.

4. Natural History Museum's Restored Rotunda
At the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park, the dramatic and historic Haaga Family Rotunda reopened this summer as part of a five-year transformation at the museum. Dedicated when the museum opened its doors in 1913, the rotunda can accommodate 250 for receptions or 120 for seated events. Lined with marble columns and topped by a stained-glass dome and coffered ceiling, the room houses the first piece of public art funded by Los Angeles County: a Beaux-Arts statue entitled “Three Muses,” which represents the disciplines of art, history, and science. With glass doors that overlook the park, the rotunda space may also be used in conjunction with the Exposition Park Rose Garden.

5. Food Trucks
It's hard to overstate the proliferation of food trucks all over town this year. The Border Grill truck, which offers Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger's gourmet tacos, quesadillas, and ceviches, was just about everywhere. And such novelties as the new Takosher truck, which bills itself as the nation's first certified glatt kosher taco truck, joined the fray. A whole fleet of trucks even showed up to feed Sony Pictures Television employees at an annual appreciation party for 550 guests on the Sony Pictures Studios lot.

6. L.A. Live's Hotels
After breaking ground in 2007 and generating much buzz since, the JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles at L.A. Live officially opened in February. The hotel shares space with the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, which opened the following month, and the Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. Live in a LEED-certified 54-story tower designed by Gensler. The Marriott has 878 guest rooms, including 52 suites, all between floors four and 21 of the tower, and the Ritz has 123 guest rooms. And with that, the massive L.A. Live project was complete, and the Los Angeles Convention Center had a pair of important—and large—new hotels.

7. Lacma's New Pavilion
There's a renewed sense of heft and vigor within Los Angeles's art community, with big hoopla surrounding the city's institutions in recent years. Adding to that air of importance is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's new Lynda & Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion, made possible by funding from that philanthropic family. The new space, designed by architect Renzo Piano, opened with a masquerade gala in September night for 1,000 guests. Lacma C.E.O. and Wallis Annenberg director Michael Govan, president Melody Kanschat, and vice president of development Terry Morello oversaw the event under the ever-watchful eye of Lynda Resnick herself. J. Ben Bourgeois was the executive producer and creative director for the giant undertaking, which involved a monthlong load-in.

8. W Hollywood Opens
The W Hollywood property opened in January, marking a huge boon to the once-seedy Hollywood and Vine area, and positioning that renowned intersection for a renaissance possibly as big as Hollywood and Highland's, just to the west. The hotel offers 10,000 square feet of meeting space and 25,000 square feet of overall special event space. There's a pool with daybeds, cabanas, and a bar, and a variety of restaurant and nightlife offerings, including Drai's Hollywood from Las Vegas nightlife impresario Victor Drai. This year, the venue has played host to a variety of high-profile events, including an Oscar party for E!.

9. Comic-Con Keeps Growing
The four-decade-old Comic-Con International show has a rabid fan following, and a growing trend toward channeling Hollywood style and bringing its celebrities. Memberships for the 2010 show sold out in November 2009, months before the previous year's record-breaking March sellout. The 2010 show took over the San Diego Convention Center in July.

10. Film Independent's Downtown Move
Film Independent took its big events, the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Spirit Awards, downtown this year from Westside neighborhoods Westwood and Santa Monica. The moves were controversial because some said it would change the independent feel of the events, washing them with a corporate-feeling gloss. The awards, always considered a relaxed alternative to the Oscars, switched from a a breezy luncheon in a beachside tent in Santa Monica to a seated dinner at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. As M.C. Eddie Izzard put it, the show “moved from a tent on the beach to a tent on top of a car park.”

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