Left Justified


Los Angeles Based Barrett Wissman Brings Culture to the People

October 30, 2014 by Alyssa Anderson in Culture
Tuscan Sun Festival

Tuscan Sun Festival

One would not necessarily expect a Los Angeles based entrepreneur like Barrett Wissman to be igniting a Renaissance in the classic art forms, but he most certainly is. Called by some the “Medici of the 21st century,” Wissman began his quest with a simple idea, to “convey a new meaning for performance arts.”

As a business visionary and a patron of the arts, Barrett Wissman is perfectly appointed to lead what can be called a “paradigm shift” in what has essentially become a performing arts monopoly held by a few bottom-line motivated moguls cheapening the world of art.

As Gulf Elite explained, “With 500 artists, 200 specialists, 30 years of experience, 10 offices, 6 divisions, 5 continents, Barrett invested time and effort into turning the company from a one among many to a leading player in the performance art scene. The story doesn’t end here. Barrett Wissman helped turn IMG artists into a comprehensive one stop shop firm for art. Among the services IMG put in place are Ballets, events planning and recently the world’s largest fireworks celebration in Dubai. IMG manages some of the greatest companies spanning across the discipline, from the grand Bolshoi Ballet and National Ballet of Canada to the innovative LA Dance Compnany, Gallim and Ballet Black. IMG also books and manages tours for the world’s most prestigious orchestras and ensembles including the Vienna Philharmonic, The Cleveland orchestra and the London symphony orchestra.”

Wissman sees “innovation as differentiation,” and implemented his dream of promoting higher arts and world class performances as universal. He decided early on that the best way to achieve this was through the creation of an arts festival. Choosing the smaller, off-the-beaten-path location of Tuscany, Wissman parleyed a small performance in an abandoned 18th century opera house into what became the internationally recognized “Tuscan Sun Festival.”

The success of the Tuscan Sun Festival brought Wissman acclaim, and within a short period of time he was in demand to help promote similar festivals in other locales. In Northern California Wissman’s involvement helped launch the Napa Valley Festival del Sole, a frenetic embrace of high-class performance art in a pastoral, magical setting.

Barrett Wissman is also the force behind IMG, a Los Angeles, California-based entertainment and media agency. Under the leadership of Wissman IMG has been organizing events around the world. Through IMG Wissman planned the world’s largest fireworks display in Dubai, manages the Bolshoi Ballet and the innovative Los Angeles Dance Company.

As the “Medici of the 21st century” Wissman has this to say:

“One has to lead when doing something important. No matter what your job is, no matter what your work is, you have to lead.”

Milken Institute Addresses the Hard Issues of Our Times

May 21, 2014 by Dan Kazan in Culture
Milken Institute Panel Discussion

Milken Institute Panel Discussion

Santa Monica-based Milken Institute is once again asking some of the hardest questions of our times- and looking to some of our greatest leaders for the answers.

The Milken Institute Global Conference took place this past April in Beverly Hills, California. On hand to discuss some of the most pressing and hard-to-solve problems of our day and age were quite a number of the world’s greatest leaders and thinkers. Among those leaders present were former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

Kagame and Blair shared the stage in a panel discussion entitled “Where Does the Growth Come From?” Blair also took part in a discussion on “Progress versus Pessimism in the Middle East.” In a panel which examined today’s “Global Risk,” retired US General Wesley Clark, former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistan ambassador to the United States together voiced their ideas.

The Milken Institute not only organizes and sponsors conferences, but it also produces reports on vital issues. Not long ago Milken published a report suggesting unique solutions to the global problem of looting of artifacts, which is today having a devastating effect on the science of archeology with an equally negative impact on national heritage treasures.

This report, entitled “Financial Innovations for Developing Archeological Discovery and Conservation,” was written by Caitlen MacLean and Glenn Yago of the Milken Institute. This 36-page report outlines “market-based solutions” to be used in the fight against looting. The authors received input from a large number of “economists, representatives from museums and the archaeological community, attorneys, and antiquities dealers and collectors.” Among these experts were Ali Aboutaam and Hicham Aboutaam, owners of Phoenix Ancient Art, S.A; Neil Brodie, Social Science Research Associate, Stanford Archaeology Center and former Research Director at the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre, University of Cambridge; and Lynn S. Dodd, curator and lecturer, Department of Religion, University of Southern California.

For further information about the many projects the Milken Institute engages in, visit their website.

Gangs Invading the Happiest Place on Earth

March 9, 2014 by Gail Nussbaum in Culture
Social Clubs Make Disneyland Even Happier for Many

Social Clubs Make Disneyland Even Happier for Many

Now, for many people, simply visiting Disneyland is just not enough. There is a growing trend, visible to Disneyland guests, to become part of a club whose purpose is to unite people of all different backgrounds who share a bountiful love for everything Disney.

Strolling through the Orange County, California iconic theme park, it is becoming increasing clear that like-minded guests are joining forces to show their pride in their hobby along with their love of Disney. These people wear denim jackets embroidered with the name of their particular club. Those names usually take their cue from specific places in the park, like “The Jungle Cruisers,” named after a popular ride; or the “Main Street Elite,” named after the crowded thoroughfare all visitors must through to get to the rest of the park. Other names are more general winks at Disney icons, like the “Hidden Mickeys” and “Walt’s Misfits.”

Disneyland has traditionally not been known before for its avant garde atmosphere. But strangely, these clubs seem to be defying, while at the same time honoring, the message of Disneyland, which has, at least until the advent of these groups, been the apple pie wholesomeness of the ‘American Way.’ In addition to the denim vests and jackets, the gang, I mean club members, nurture a unique look which could include body piercing, tattoos, pompadours, or other outward manifestation that Walt himself would probably not approve of. Their look is “unconventional” while Disneyland is probably the birthplace and capital of conventionality.

So what’s going on here? One member of the Main Street Elite, L. Aggro Harrington explained,

“We wanted to meet people who wanted to go to the park as much as we did. People who were like us: young parents into movies, music, fashion, tattoos and body mods.”

The clubs appear to be open and tolerant. The few requirements for membership include respect for other members, other clubs, and Disneyland itself. They don’t seem to be exclusive or clique-y: members can come from any age group, gender, or even sexual orientation. Yet, there are many Disneyland guests or are suspicious of these clubs, which feel like a kind of gang to them.

“They definitely make other guests uncomfortable when they’re groups of younger ones,” explains a Disney cast member who works in Fantasyland and Toontown. “But there are also families that come. [The clubs] have gotten so big that they have every kind of guest you can imagine now.”

Despite frightening rumors of typical gang behavior such as turf wars and the like, talking to a club member or two and it is clear there is nothing frightening or dangerous here. The bottom line for this new breed of gang member is that it’s all about friendship, having fun at Disneyland, and looking ‘cool’ while you’re doing it.  Leaders of the clubs insist that they are highly appreciative of all the other clubs popping up and it’s not about competition or exclusiveness. How could it be and still be Disney?

Roosevelt Holds on to First First Lady Position

February 16, 2014 by Alyssa Anderson in Culture
Beloved First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Beloved First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

For the past 32 years Siena College has asked selected Americans how they feel about their First Ladies, and each time Eleanor Roosevelt has come out on top. The latest poll, which questioned 242 historians, political scientists and published scholars, and released on Saturday, shows Abigail Adams in her traditional spot in second place, and Jacquie Kennedy retaining third place compared with the last poll which was held in 2008.

Fourth place went to Dolly Madison and Michelle Obama took position five in her first appearance on the list. Hillary Clinton fell from fourth place in 2008 down to sixth. During the years Clinton spent as First Lady the Siena poll, taken in 1993, placed her in second place.

The scholars put Clinton in the top spot, however, as the First Lady who they could see most suited to being President. Sixty-nine percent thought Clinton could take the nation’s highest office, while only 39 percent saw Roosevelt as such. Obama was rated highest as far as which First Lady ran her family life best, with 43 percent thinking so. Kennedy came in second place as a family woman with 22 percent and Edith Roosevelt third with 17 percent.

The poll was held between October 10 and November 25 in 2013. Online interviews were conducted and questionnaires were sent through the mail. The poll was conducted by the Siena College together with C-SPAN, and released last Saturday in conjunction with C-SPAN’s “First Lady” TV series, whose last episode will be shown on Monday.