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The Beverly Hills City Council approved a 2023-24 budget of $265,000 for Next BH, a committee aimed at fostering the next generation of civic leaders and making Beverly Hills a more desirable community for young people at its May 2 meeting.
Next BH was started by Mayor Julian Gold in 2015, and it remains one of the focus points of his third term as mayor. The bulk of the budget for Next BH will go towards Next Night, the committee’s marquee street festival that includes food, drinks, musical performances and a kids zone.
“Last year was a really great event despite [poor] weather,” Gold said. “It was cold and ultimately it rained, but the street was filled … And that was really fun.”
Despite the inclement weather, an unprecedented 5,000 people attended last year’s event. This year’s Next Night has been moved from October to Sept. 9 to reduce the risk of bad weather, said senior policy and management analyst Gabriella Yap.
The $230,000 Next Night budget represents a $20,000 increase over last year, which Yap said is a result of higher labor and manufacturing costs, supply chain challenges and a new interactive art mural.
To make way for the festival, parts of South Beverly Drive will be closed from 6 p.m. on Sept. 8 until 4 a.m. on Sept. 10, according to a staff report.
Next BH has also allocated $20,000 for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, including Festival BH, which the committee co-sponsored, and BH Pride. The budget also includes $15,000 for membership and community engagement activities including First Thursdays, a pandemic-era initiative to promote different arts and cultural events.
With Beverly Hills declaring an end to the COVID-19 emergency, the committee is looking to expand its offering of engagement activities, including partnerships with neighboring colleges, mixers with public safety departments and outreach efforts to the Beverly Hills Unified School District, Next BH vice-chair Charles Smith said.
The council was unanimously supportive of Next BH’s plans for the upcoming year, though councilmembers John Mirisch and Sharona Nazarian requested that the committee include a more detailed breakdown of costs in future reports.
“In the future, I’d like to see a little more detail with regard to the cost of the breakdown, so we have a better idea of that for transparency. Otherwise, I am in support of this,” Nazarian said.
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