Rental Events & Filming
GENERAL INFORMATION ON OBSERVATORY USE
All facilities at Griffith Observatory are primarily for use of the Observatory in accomplishing its mission of public astronomy and science education. The use of Observatory facilities for activities conducted or sponsored by the Observatory takes priority over all other uses at all times. Consideration is provided for uses by Friends Of The Observatory (FOTO), related to FOTO’s public-private partnership with the Department to support the Observatory. Griffith Observatory will consider appropriate and relevant requests for rental or commercial filming use of its facilities consistent with the Observatory’s mission and the policies of the Department of Recreation and Parks.
The Observatory defines an "event" as an activity which departs from normal public operations (as described below). Most events are actually initiated by the Observatory as an enhancement to normal public operations. Some events are initiated by FOTO, with advance approval of the Observatory Director, in order to enhance programming opportunities or assist in fundraising in support of the Observatory. A small subset of events are rental or filming activities, wherein outside organizations seek to use Observatory facilities for some purpose aligned with the Observatory’s astronomical and civic mission.
PRIMARY MISSION: SERVING OBSERVATORY VISITORSThe mission of Griffith Observatory is inspiring everyone to observe, ponder, and understand the sky. The fundamental means of accomplishing this mission is through daily public operation of the facility.
Regularly scheduled public operation occurs on the following schedule:
|•||Weekdays (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday)||12:00 noon - 10:00 p.m.|
|•||Weekends (Saturday and Sunday)||10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.|
|•||School show programs (weekdays during school year)||9:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon|
Public operation of the facility is generally considered to encompass public areas of the building, the surrounding grounds and parking lots, and adjacent roads. These include:
|•||Programs in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium|
|•||Programs in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon|
|•||Public telescope viewing in the domes, on the front lawn, and on the east and west terraces|
|•||Public access to exhibit galleries and staff interpretation|
|•||Public access to the roof and grounds|
Other Observatory uses of the building include:
|•||Monthly star parties and special observing events hosted by the Observatory (and conducted in cooperation with the LAAS and LA Sidewalk Astronomers)|
|•||Monthly meetings of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society (LAAS) and similar organizations|
|•||Meetings of astronomical organizations, conferences, or other related groups|
|•||Special lectures, symposia, or other astronomical programming|
|•||News media activities and coverage, including press conferences|
|•||Special civic events for the City of Los Angeles|
CRITERIA AND GUIDELINES FOR RENTAL USE
AVAILABILITY. The only time for rental use or filming is on select Mondays. That is because the Observatory is open to the public 6 days a week, 10-12 hours per day, and does not close to the public each night until 10:00 p.m. We also offer our school visit program during most weekdays in the school year. Please be aware that not all Mondays will be available for rental use because the Observatory must use some of those days for vital building maintenance and repairs, special programming, and staff training. We will not schedule rental events or filming at times when the building is open to the public. Service to the public is the primary and overriding purpose of the institution.
UNIQUE FACILITY. Griffith Observatory is a unique venue historically and in character. The Observatory is a Los Angeles and California historic landmark, a status that imposes significant limitations on what activities may be permitted. Unlike a typical rental hall or similar venue, the Observatory has extremely limited availability and capability to support rental use. It has always been intended as a public facility, and the recent renovation - while improving its ability to serve visitors - did not enhance or increase its ability to support the kind of events usually associated with rental uses. There is virtually no “back of house,” no dining rooms, no catering kitchen, no special purpose rooms, and no equipment (chairs, tables, linens, lamps) to support events. There is very limited parking and very constrained staffing. We do not permit outside programming (musical or artistic performances, science lectures) as part of an event.
EVENT RENTAL CRITERIA. The unique nature of the Observatory and its limited availability require proposed rental uses of the building to demonstrate a distinct and clear relevance to the Observatory’s mission. Any proposed event must have a direct and demonstrable connection to the purpose and function of the building. This means that integral to the intent and execution of the rental event are goals of civic responsibility; promotion of science and astronomy; collaboration on issues in which the Observatory has a functional relationship, such as education; or celebration of Griffith Park, its donor, or the facility itself.
The Observatory does not permit rentals at any time for personal or seasonal events (such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs, and holiday parties). As a general rule, corporate meetings, conferences, or other gatherings will not meet the relevance criteria and will not be permitted.
FILMING AND PHOTOGRAPHY RENTAL CRITERIA. For both filming and photography, preference is given to those productions which do not in any way disrupt public operations, do not pose a threat of damage to the facility and grounds, and do not pose an unreasonable burden on the Observatory, the park, or the surrounding neighborhood. Given the limited availability of the building, we give priority to those productions which portray and promote the Observatory as itself and which are related to the promotion of science, education, and/or Los Angeles. For filming productions, the size of the crew, amount of equipment, and need for parking will also be taken into account, as the Observatory has very limited space available for these.
POLICIES AND GUIDELINES FOR RENTAL USE
Programs of the Observatory have priority over any other proposed use. All those wishing to make rental use of a portion of the Observatory must conform to the following policies:
• Event planning and execution are subject to review by the Observatory Director, who will make the determination regarding a proposed event and will forward to the General Manager, Department of Recreation and Parks. Decisions of the General Manager are final.
• Event may not compete with, displace, or disrupt Observatory programs, including regular public operation of the facility and/or its morning school programs, special activities, and scheduled maintenance.
• Event may not charge admission, conduct auctions, or permit any sales outside those coordinated by the Observatory’s authorized concessionaires. Observatory facilities may not be used for the purpose of fundraising, except in support of the Observatory itself (by Friends Of The Observatory).
• Event may not impose an unreasonable burden on Observatory staff, other Griffith Park facilities, or the surrounding neighborhood.
• Event limited to maximum 1,800 total participants (including attendees and all required staff).
• Alcohol service, if applicable, must conclude by 10:00 p.m., and events at which alcohol is served should conclude no later than 10:30 p.m.
RENTAL FEES, EXPENSES, AND CATERING
RENTAL FEES. There are fees for rental and filming uses of the building, set by the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners. These fees are based on the areas of the building to be used, the duration of the proposed use, and the services required. The rental fee for use of the entire building (inside and outside) for a rental event start at $12,500 for a 10-hour period (which includes set-up, the event, and clean-up). Fees for filming begin at $10,000 (exterior of building only) and $15,000 (interior and exterior) for a 10-hour shoot (including set-up, filming, and clean-up). Fees for commercial still photography are $2,000 for a four-hour session or any portion thereof. There are additional rental fees for any additional time required. Fees may not be discounted or reduced.
EXPENSES. In addition to the fees specifically designated for the rental use, the organization conducting the event must reimburse the Observatory for staffing expenses, based on the schedule of rates set by the Commissioners. This includes the costs of staff for the event, security, and any specially-requested programmatic options (such as a show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium or availability of telescopes).
INSURANCE. Please note that any organization seeking to use the Observatory for an event or filming will be required to carry insurance. The organization will be fully liable for the immediate and full repair of any damage to the Observatory building, grounds, or roads caused by the event or filming.
CATERING. All catering for an event (or craft services for filming) must be through Wolfgang Puck Catering, which is the exclusive catering services provider for the Observatory. Costs for catering are in addition to the rental fees and expenses noted above. An organization seeking to hold an event at the Observatory must have that request approved by the Observatory before making catering arrangements. Please be aware that the Observatory does not provide tables, chairs, lighting, linens, or other elements of an event. The organization renting the facility would need to make all arrangements necessary to acquire these items for the event, either through Wolfgang Puck Catering or independently.
Please note that there are limitations on the types of food and drinks that can be served in certain areas of the building. The Observatory does not permit use of the roof, historic building level, or theaters for the service or consumption of food or drinks.
Filming companies should take note that they would be required to work with Wolfgang Puck Catering for the provision of craft services for approved film shoots.