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Morning Brief: 2020's Best Of Arts

Artist Pony Wave paints a scene depicting two people kissing while wearing face masks on Venice Beach on March 21, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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This week, we’ll be looking back at our coverage of 2020, one of the strangest, most difficult years through which many of us have ever lived. Reporting on it was hard, and at times painful. But amid the tragedy of the coronavirus, there were some bright spots. Today, we’ll take a look at our coverage of L.A.’s arts and entertainment scene.

I normally cover arts and entertainment — stuff like escape rooms, new TV shows set in Los Angeles, and of course, Disneyland. Fun, right? But the pace of news this year has had many of us pivoting. That's meant along with reporting on how COVID-19 has affected the arts locally, I’ve also been covering the governor’s COVID-19 press conferences, the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality, our pandemic election year, and more.

Through it all, hearing from our audience has helped to guide my coverage and helped me find the stories that need telling. Thank you for staying with us. Here are some of my favorite arts stories from the past year. It includes the serious social issues we all grappled with this year, but also a Britney Spears pop-up, theme parks, and Santa. Let’s hope there’s more of the fun in 2021, and I hope that you all stay safe during this time.

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2020's Best Of Arts

UCB Faces Backlash After Receiving Coronavirus Bailout, Not Rehiring Employees At The Comedy Theater/School The Upright Citizens Brigade laid off most of its L.A. staff members after COVID-19 closures. The acclaimed comedy theater and training school received a loan from the government's Paycheck Protection Program of somewhere between $350,000 and $1 million in early April for its L.A. location — but said they didn't plan to use that funding to hire back their staff. (Read the story)

The Magic Castle Conjures Up A New Black Lives Matter Response Amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racism, Hollywood’s legendary Magic Castle came under fire for offering its parking lot as a staging area for law enforcement. Its response only drummed up more disappointment and anger. (Read the story)

Oops, They Did It: A Pop-Up Recreating Britney Spears’ Music Videos In LA’s Fairfax District Pop-up experiences range from hot garbage to magical. The Zone, a new Britney Spears-inspired and endorsed pop-up next to the Grove, isn't perfect (where’s the "(You Drive Me) Crazy — The Stop Remix" room?) but it's a good encapsulation of what it feels like to be a Britney fan. (Read the story)

Drive-Ins Spread Through Hollywood (And Beyond) As the prospects for going back to see movies indoors anytime soon grows dimmer, pop-up drive-ins are spreading. Now you can enjoy a socially distanced movie with dozens of other cars from Santa Monica to Montclair, along with more points in between. In the heart of Hollywood, you're even getting new(ish) movies. (Read the story)

How LA’s Street Artists Are Responding To Coronavirus From Ruben Rojas to Cat Donuts to Rasmus Balstrøm and more, graffiti artists took to the streets to vent frustration, feel a sense of control and bring the city together. "We don't know what tomorrow holds — we're kind of sitting here waiting — and making art and putting it up makes me feel like I'm somehow empowered over the situation,” said artist Jeremy Novy. (Read the story)

‘Our Santa Jaw Dropped.’ How SoCal Santas Are Going Virtual And Staying Safe For IRL Visits Christmas will be different this year — don't carol and spread your particles too close to me, please — and it will be no less different for Santa than for the rest of us. (Read the story)

We Traipsed Around A Star Destroyer: Your Guide To Disneyland’s ‘Star Wars: Rise Of The Resistance’ The new ride — which resides in a large portion of Galaxy's Edge (a.k.a. Star Wars Land) that up until now was relatively sparse — is one of the most ambitious attractions ever seen at Disneyland, with multiple ride systems coming together to immerse you in another world. (Read the story)

Coronavirus Shut Down Popular Escape Rooms. Now The Industry Is Going Virtual L.A.’s escape rooms are closed for now — with the tight passages and constant touching of different puzzles as you try to find your way out, they are basically ripe for spreading a virus. Here’s how they’re getting by. (Read the story)

How To Make A Sitcom Safely During Coronavirus: Have The Cast Be The Crew The life of an actor isn't always glamorous. But that may be especially true during a pandemic. The new NBC sitcom Connecting... was shot remotely at the actors' homes across Los Angeles, with cast members serving as their own crew. (Read the story)

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Theme Parks Are Closed, But Here Are 17 Rides You Can Go On Right Now — Virtually We can't get you into Disneyland (though I do have a friend who drove down to take a quarantine tour of their parking lots), but we can give you your own personalized virtual theme park experience with the best theme park ride videos. (Read the story)

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