January 11, 2017: Sundance to Have a Big Focus on Climate Change, Events App Maker DoubleDutch Downsizes and Lays Off Workers, George Lucas Chooses Los Angeles for $1 Billion Museum

By Ian Zelaya January 11, 2017, 8:40 AM EST

1. SUNDANCE TO HAVE A BIG FOCUS ON CLIMATE CHANGE: The 33rd edition of the Sundance Film Festival, which runs January 19-29, is slated to have a huge focus on climate change with 14 projects screening during the event's New Climate program. The New York Times: “Sundance finds itself navigating some unusually slippery terrain this year. Mr. Redford, who recuses himself from programming decisions, bristles when his festival is seen as having an agenda. 'We don’t take a position,' he insisted. At the same time, his top programmers, John Cooper and Trevor Groth, say they are taking a specific stance, one that is political by nature: For the first time in the festival’s history, there will be a spotlight on one theme—global warming and the environment. Their goal? 'To change the world,' Mr. Groth, programming director, said with a grin over lunch here recently. Mr. Cooper, Sundance’s director, added quickly, 'Or die trying.' As the pre-eminent showcase for American independent film, Sundance sets the pace for what art house audiences will be watching for the coming year. Mr. Cooper and Mr. Groth said that they decided over the summer to use that power to push eco-films because they felt interest in them was waning. 'That seemed a bit odd, given how large and important the topic is,' Mr. Cooper said. (Mr. Redford, it should be noted, is a longtime environmentalist, although he said that had no bearing on the festival.)  A new Sundance subsection, the New Climate, will include 14 documentaries, short films and special projects, including a virtual-reality experience that turns participants into a tree that is violently chopped down. (Not to be left out, the less prestigious Slamdance, a concurrent festival, will open with 'What Lies Upstream,' an investigative look at drinking-water contamination in West Virginia and Michigan.)”

2. EVENTS APP MAKER DOUBLEDUTCH DOWNSIZES AND LAYS OFF WORKERS: DoubleDutch, the startup that provides analytics and mobile apps for events, has downsized and laid off 40 percent of its workers. TechCrunch: “DoubleDutch’s CFO, CCO, VP of Customer Success and others are out as a result of the changes, among others, though some, like CFO Brad Roberts, will remain in advisory roles for the time being. The core product and engineering team and core go-to-market team remain, including CEO Lawrence Coburn, co-founder Pankaj Prasad, CRO Dave Simon, CMO Emily He, VP of Engineering Marlin Scott, and CTO Nicholas Clark. Founded in 2011, DoubleDutch raised over $78 million to fund the development of its mobile tools for event organizers. This includes the ability for event hosts to create apps for their conferences, trade shows, concerts, and other events, as well as track analytics around engagement. If you’ve ever downloaded a custom events app, there’s a decent chance you may have used a DoubleDutch product. These new layoffs follow a prior round DoubleDutch held last July, when 55 employees were let go as a part of a company-wide restructuring. At the time, those departures had accounted for 25 percent of DoubleDutch’s global workforce. The company explained then that the layoffs were necessitated by the need to reach for profitability and its plan to move up the market as DoubleDutch built out its enterprise platform.”

3. GEORGE LUCAS CHOOSES LOS ANGELES FOR $1 BILLION MUSEUM: Star Wars creator George Lucas has picked Los Angeles as the location of his $1 billion Museum of Narrative Art. Los Angeles Times: “Lucas’ personal collection of fine and popular art, including ephemera related to his ‘Star Wars’ franchise, will fill a futuristic-looking new museum planned for L.A.’s Exposition Park, which beat out a competing design for Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. The rivalry had pitted the two cities in the competition not only for Lucas’ collection and the tourism it will bring, but also for the thousands of jobs that backers said the project will create. Lucas has said he will fund the project to the tune of about $1 billion, including building costs, his art and an endowment of at least $400 million. The Lucas Museum will further expand the art museum landscape in greater L.A., which has become a global hot spot for art production. … Lucas declined to comment for this article, but the museum board’s announcement said he chose L.A. largely because Exposition Park positions the museum to ‘have the greatest impact on the broader community, fulfilling our goal of inspiring, engaging and educating a broad and diverse visitorship.’ Exposition Park could become the Central Park of Los Angeles, Garcetti said, adding that Lucas has expressed interest in helping to guide a master plan for the swiftly evolving area, already home to the California Science Center, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California African American Museum. Plans for the new museum, which will rise along Vermont Avenue on land now covered by parking lots, will include underground parking.”


AUSTIN:  SXSW has announced close to 500 acts for its music festival and conference, which runs March 13-19. Billboard:

CHICAGO:  Restaurant and music venue Rhyme or Reason is slated to open in Wicker Park in February. Helmed by industry professionals Le'Qoinne Rice and Zafer Genc, the 1970s-inspired venue—which was designed by Seamless Designs and features graffiti from Jas Petersen—seats 174 inside and 75 outside.

DALLAS/FORT WORTH:  Brand experience provider Freeman has announced the launch of new virtual-reality products and services. The services in the initial rollout include virtual 3-D design and product experiences, live VR streaming, and custom VR experiences.

HOUSTON:  Sports Illustrated will celebrate the launch of its Swimsuit issue with “Vibes,” a music, food, and cultural festival on February 17-18 at Post HTX. The event will include performances by Diplo and Miguel, a food festival curated by chef Chris Shepherd, and special appearances by models featured in the issue.

LAS VEGAS:  For the third consecutive year, Las Vegas continued historic visitation growth, setting a new all-time record. The city drew 42.9 million visitors in 2016, surpassing 2015’s record-setting 42.3 million.

The Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, will mark its fifth anniversary with five days of events planned for February 10-14.

LOS ANGELES:  Restaurant group Blackhouse Hospitality has launched its seventh and eighth concepts, Bluegold and LSXO, at Pacific City in Huntington Beach. Helmed by Jed Sanford and Tin Vuong, Bluegold serves remained coastal cuisine, and LSXO—a 28-seat concept located inside of Bluegold—serves Vietnamese fare.

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  The Voice for Children Foundation's 21st annual “Be a Voice, Be a Light” gala will take place Saturday at Mandarin Oriental Miami.

NEW YORK:  ESPN Films will host the XFL “Pop-up Hall of Fame” and an advance screening of the 30 for 30 documentary “This Was The XFL” on Saturday at Cooper Union.

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

ORLANDO/CENTRAL FLORIDA:  The Edible Orlando Field to Feast Dinner will take place March 25 at Long & Scott Farms in Mount Dora. The event includes locally sourced food prepared by Walt Disney World chefs, as well as music and farm tours. It benefits Second Harvest Kids Cafe.

Joe Lupo has been named president of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

TORONTO:  The Royal Ontario Museum's ROM Ball, presented by CIBC, will take place May 6. The event, which raises funds for the museum, will celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary with art, nature, and culture experiences.

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With contributions from Jenny Berg in Chicago, Alesandra Dubin and Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Jill Menze, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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