Los Angeles

Los Angeles Freedom Festival Unveils Statue in Honor of Diversity, Inclusion

“The Freedom Sculpture is a testament to the values we hold dear and we are honored to receive it," Mayor Eric Garcetti said

A sculpture billed as "a crowd-supported and funded public monument to freedom, cultural diversity and inclusiveness" was unveiled Tuesday at a festival celebrating Los Angeles' diversity.

The Freedom Sculpture in Century City was "inspired by the humanitarian ideals of freedom, respect for cultural diversity and inclusiveness that originated with Cyrus the Great of Persia," said Farhad Mohit, the vice chairman of the Farhang Foundation, which led the efforts to raise funds for the sculpture.

"We had a vision of the Iranian-American community and the people of Los Angeles coming together to help create the Freedom Sculpture, making it a gift that celebrates the cultural diversity of our city," Mohit said.

Just under $2.5 million was raised from over 1.15 million donors in more than 50 nations, according to Mohit.

The sculpture stands on a public bus stop median on Santa Monica Boulevard at Century Park East. It was designed by the London-based Sri Lankan-British architect and artist Cecil Balmond.

Mohit describes it as a large-scale contemporary interpretation of the 2,500-year-old Cyrus Cylinder, the ancient Persian artifact widely considered to be the first declaration of human rights.

The Freedom Sculpture began as an idea by the Farhang Foundation in late 2013. An international urban art competition seeking designs for a monument celebrating universally shared humanitarian ideals of freedom, inclusiveness and diversity began in 2014, Mohit said.

A panel of independent jurors selected Balmond's design from more than 300 submissions.

"The Freedom Sculpture is a testament to the values we hold dear and we are honored to receive it," Mayor Eric Garcetti said before leaving on a trip to Berlin and Switzerland.

The unveiling was part of the inaugural LA Freedom Festival, a free event on a closed section of Santa Monica Boulevard and Century Park East billed as a celebration of diversity and unity in Los Angeles.

The festival organized by the Farhang Foundation featured multi-ethnic foods, diverse musical acts, celebrity speakers and a fireworks display.

The Farhang Foundation describes its as a nonreligious, nonpolitical and nonprofit organization established in 2008 to celebrate and promote Iranian art and culture.

It also funds university programs, publications and conferences and supports a variety of cultural programs.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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