BHCP Live! Looking Forward to Summer

By Tiffany Taylor

imageSummer may still be a few months away, but plans are already underway to continue a free concert series in Baldwin Hills, part of an ongoing effort to nurture community redevelopment in the area.

The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza’s BHCP Live! Concert series is looking forward to its third year as a free concert series featuring A-level artists. The success of last year’s concert series has organizers and community members excited about gaining momentum this coming summer.

“One of the good things about the concert series is that it’s grown really well through word of mouth,” said Jason Lombard, the Community Outreach Director for the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. “In the first few concerts there were a couple hundred people.”

The highest attendance at any concert in the series in 2011 was that of R&B singer Stephanie Mills, with around 4,500 people filling the promenade space at the plaza in front of the Rave Movie Theater.

imageMills was the favorite of Robert Cole, President of the Baldwin Hills Estates Homeowner Association, who attended three of the series’ four concerts last summer.

“The turn out for Stephanie Mills was phenomenal. People were hanging in the parking lot and looking over the balcony,” Cole said. “I was surprised because there wasn’t a lot of publicity but somehow people heard about it and they turned out.”

“I like to say that I hear the grass roots comments, and we went from conversations at the beginning about the redevelopment and what was going to happen starting out with a lot of doubt,” Lombard said. “I think that comes from things that have been over-promised and under-delivered.”

As the Community Outreach Director, Lombard’s mission is to spread the word about the remodeling of the plaza and upcoming events. He does so by attending meetings of community organizations and homeowners associations.

“It went from me attending community meetings and people not being familiar with the concert series asking normal questions, but then it turned to at least one person in each meeting saying that I went to the last concert and telling others to be sure that they go,” Lombard said.

imageThe concert series aims to showcase the renovations and changes going on at the plaza to the community, as well as provide entertainment and bring the community together.

“It’s an opportunity for people to see artists for free within walking distance of their homes that they wouldn’t normally be able to see,” Lombard said, “It’s a great opportunity, not only for people to meet their neighbors, but to meet people that they otherwise would not have and just be able to come down and enjoy the plaza and see the great things that are happening.”

With two successful concert series under their belt, the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza is starting to ready themselves for this summer’s concert series. While they have not yet begun reaching out to artists, some artists are already reaching out to them.

“There are a lot of artist management teams that are talking about it,” Lombard said, “It’s been interesting to see, we actually went from having to reach out to artists to having them come to us and say, ‘Hey, we heard you guys are doing some great things and we’d love to be considered for this series.’ I think that speaks for the success of the series.”

In the meantime, the plaza has been hosting other events. Rave Cinemas recently hosted the 20th Annual Pan African Film Festival at the plaza.

“We are planning an event that will celebrate the mall’s transformation and welcome those highly anticipated retailers expected to open this year. We are also planning events geared towards our Spanish-speaking customers this year, in addition to our steadfast events such as BHCP Live concerts,” said Cheryl Roberts, Marketing Director of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza looks forward to continuing to grow in 2012. Events such as the 20121 BHCP Live! Concert series will only help the plaza gain more community support.

“There’s a lot of things that are going on and there’s a lot of things have happened already and we have more to come,” Lombard said.

For more information, including upcoming events, click here.

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