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Featured Friend: Mark Ladd

Watch & Listen

Mark Ladd has been a manager in the entertainment and sports venue industry for more than forty years. He currently holds the position of Associate Director of Operations, Hollywood Bowl. During his tenure at the Hollywood Bowl, Mr. Ladd served a principal role in the renovation and rehabilitation of the Bowl's iconic performance shell/stage, which was completed in 2004. He is a co-author of the Hollywood Bowl Design Guidelines and author of the venue’s Landscape Guidelines. Prior to moving to the Hollywood Bowl in 1991, Mr. Ladd was Operations Coordinator for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena. Mr. Ladd has extensive experience in building construction, managing restoration and operation of historic structures, event security, crowd management and event planning. In addition to his regular duties, he has lent his expertise to the XXIIIrd Olympiad, nine Super Bowls and twenty January 1st Rose Bowl games. He is a member of the International Association of Venue Managers.

A scion of a pioneer California family, Mr. Ladd has held a lifelong interest in genealogy. He has accumulated an extensive collection of vital records, first edition reference books, artifacts and ephemera. He has spent several years researching and digitizing an extensive family photograph collection that spans to the pre-civil war era.

A fifth-generation California native, Mr. Ladd was graduated from the University of Southern California, with a Bachelor of Arts in History. He and his wife Angie reside in Pasadena and have two children: daughter Lindsay and son Andrew.

Hi Mark! Congratulations on recently celebrating your 30th anniversary working at the Hollywood Bowl! What has been the most memorable moment during your tenure?

It was when we completed the Shell/Stage Rehabilitation project in 2004. It was a remarkable collaboration that took nine years from concept to completion. The on-site construction was like a nine-month sprint. It was great to work with so many talented people: Our architects Hodgetts + Fung and Gruen Associates, as well as Matt Construction and their wonderful sub-contractors. And, of course, our LA Phil/Hollywood Bowl team.

As Associate Director of Hollywood Bowl Operations, what would you say is your most important responsibility when managing such a popular and recognizable venue?

I think it is important to set the tone for the people we work with. We want our staff to enjoy working here, while at the same time, as stewards of this historic amphitheater, we couldn’t be more serious about operating a high level of excellence.  We’ve long looked at operating the Bowl in the same manner you would run your home: welcoming people in, making sure they’re comfortable and having a good time. Of course, as the summer home of the extraordinary Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, along with so many wonderful presentations, what first draws people to the Bowl begins on stage. No doubt the overall experience of picnicking and enjoying great company at the world’s greatest outdoor music venue helps to keep people coming back year after year.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, what were the most difficult challenges you and your team were presented with, and how do you and your team plan on facing these challenges as you reopen for the 2021 Season?

We’ve managed to keep the Bowl open as a park every single day throughout the pandemic. We had to run a little lean, and our maintenance and operations staff really stepped up and performed a lot of different duties to make it happen.

A big challenge we’re facing for reopening has been hiring our summer seasonal staff in a much shorter time frame. Thankfully, the Bowl is a special place, and there is always a lot of interest in working here. We will be working double-time to get ready and look forward to another spectacular season.

Are there any Hollywood Bowl secrets that you can share with Friends of the LA Phil? What are some tips or tricks that general patrons of the Bowl are not aware of?

The biggest secrets to the Bowl aren’t really secrets at all. Get here early! I would also advise anyone to plan their trip. Check out our web site to get the latest info about the program and any special rules that may be in place, particularly for “Lease Events”. And wear comfortable shoes!

If you were not running the Hollywood Bowl, which venue would you be most excited to manage?

Well, I don’t plan on leaving the Bowl any time soon, but a couple of places come to mind. Prior to coming to the Bowl in 1991, I worked at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. I love historic places and the Coliseum is similar to the Bowl in that respect. My alma mater USC has done a fantastic job renovating the facility and the stadium will be around for a long time to come.  So that would be high on my list. Of course, I wouldn’t want to displace any of my friends there, so it will have to remain something I might muse about occasionally. Another interesting venue is SoFi Stadium. The place is an absolute wonder. With two NFL franchises, I’m sure it would be a fun challenge to operate.

We know you have a great love for architecture, and you have infinite amount of knowledge and wisdom about the architecture of the Hollywood Bowl. What is your favorite design aspect of the Bowl and is there any part you would want to improve?

My favorite aspect of the Bowl architecture is seeing the redevelopment that has taken place since we produced our design guidelines, which I was fortunate to help create. Once you approach the Plaza, you really start to get a sense of a unified aesthetic that gives you a “Hollywood Heyday” vibe. The projects that have been completed in that time include the Plaza, Mid Gate Entry and Security/First Aid facility, Shell/Stage Facility, Ann’s Wine Bar/Chao’s Popcorn, Richard D. Colburn Orchestra Lounge, Buzz McCoy’s Marketplace and Michael Martinet’s Eatery. To have been intimately involved in the construction of these buildings – down to the last screw – has been the experience of a lifetime.

As for improvements, I enjoy any opportunity to bring something back or add something new. I would like to continue to refurbish some of our older amenities, such as the Promenade Four concession stand and begin planting new trees and plants throughout the Bowl grounds.

We know you are here to run the operations of every concert at the Hollywood Bowl. If you were a regular concertgoer, what would be your preferred genre/program?

That’s a difficult question! To me the Bowl is like an amalgamation of the world’s greatest museums. Imagine going into a combined Louvre, British Museum and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. How could you possibly pick the best part? It’s all great!

Do you have any words you’d like to share with our Friends of the LA Phil?

I have long appreciated the tremendous support the Friends of the LA Phil have lent to LAPA and how it has impacted the Bowl. It has been my pleasure to meet and get to know so many of you and always enjoy our time spent together. I cannot imagine how the Phil and the Bowl would have become international icons without your generosity and friendship.