BritWeek Los Angeles
April 21 – May 3, 2015
Celebrating Creativity and Innovation Between the U.K. and the U.S.
By Darren Darnborough
When is an eggplant not an eggplant? When it’s an aubergine, of course, and that’s what happens two months shy of Independence Day in Los Angeles, when the city is awash with red, white and blue of a different kind, as BritWeek begins its annual celebration.
The Los Angeles airport salutes the festivities by recoloring its welcome pillars. Restaurants pepper their menus with British fare. Clothing stores on Robertson Boulevard team up to collectively promote the isle’s leading fashions. Music venues serve up U.K.-inspired bands. There are parties, openings, gallery exhibitions, films, street fairs, awards, galas, all in the name of promoting the cultural ties between California and Britain, while spotlighting charities and raising money and awareness for local and international causes.
And in the words of the Brits, it’s doing rather splendidly well.
BritWeek was founded in 2007 by TV impresario Nigel Lythgoe and the then British Consul General Bob Pierce. Nigel, who is arguably one of the most influential British forces in American entertainment broadcasting – having produced American Idol and created So You Think You Can Dance? – decided with Bob that there needed to be a landmark event to celebrate the creative fusion between the U.K. and the Golden State. BritWeek launched with a mission to “create greater awareness of the many ways in which Britain and the U.S. work closely together, and further build this relationship to advance business, the arts, and philanthropy in both of these thriving regions of the world.” Fast-forward to current times, and 2015 looks set to be an incredible year for the two-week event. Los Angeles will play host to many festivities from April 21 to May 3, while around the country satellite events take place throughout the year in Miami, Orlando, San Francisco and Orange County.
So, what can one expect from being in Los Angeles during BritWeek? Well, for starters, it all kicks off with a fabulously themed, exclusive launch party at a decadent private residence. As with any good Hollywood event, the drinks are flowing, the food sumptuous, the red carpet adorned with celebrities, political figures and influencers, and the invite list as tight as the gates to Buckingham Palace. However, savvy supporters can become a ‘Friend of BritWeek’ and find themselves a VIP, where they will mingle among the Queen’s elite, whom in previous years have included singer Seal, Lord Frederick Windsor, Bruno Tonioli from Dancing with the Stars, and superstar DJ Paul Oakenfold. This year’s theme is rumored to be classic sci-fi, so perhaps even an encounter with Brit favorite Dr. Who is in the cards.
Without a time machine, you could still transport yourself to one of the other great public events that BritWeek has to offer. The fortnight includes exhibitions by Heatherwick Studio and J.M.W. Turner, or a British Music Night at famed Sunset Strip haunt, Whisky A Go Go. TV host and Comedian Simon Amstell will get you laughing at his show ‘To Be Free’. Furniture Designer Christopher Guy will once again honor a promising student with the Design Icon Award at his Beverly Boulevard store, and movie industry gurus will discuss the current state of entertainment at the highly acclaimed Film & TV Summit.
However, one key event that really spotlights the fostering of advancement between the communities is the BritWeek UKTI Business Innovation Awards presented by Virgin Atlantic. This elegant dinner event at the prestigious Four Seasons hotel recognizes outstanding achievement and innovation in four categories: Technology, Business Services, Social Impact, and Design. In true BritWeek spirit of inclusion, any company with a footprint in both the U.K. and California is eligible to enter, and should definitely want to, as they will be judged by the crème de la crème of each category. From Ian Callum, Design Director for Jaguar cars, to Andy Bird, Chairman of Disney International; from veteran news anchor Carlos Amezcua to the most downloaded TED talker Sir Ken Robinson, these luminaries will scrutinize the entries to find those game-changers that will go forth to be applauded for their contribution to the future economies. Judging by past winners – Industrial Light & Magic visual effects, or digital health platform Headspace – it’s an award worth winning, and nominations are free and open now.
If all that has whet your appetite sufficiently, or you simply can’t get enough of Downton Abbey or stop singing along to Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, you should probably get straight over to the BritWeek website (www.britweek.org) where you can sign up for updates on events, submit your application, become a Friend of BritWeek, or even sponsor one of the great events.
One thing’s for sure… The British Are Coming, and you really don’t want to miss this friendly invasion.
For more information, visit www.britweek.org.
Images courtesy of BritWeek.
UPDATE: BritWeek 2015 (Photography by Rex Gelert, RexGelert.com):
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