Cultural and civic leaders attended a meeting this week to explore interest in the development of a nonprofit cultural and arts center on Spring Street downtown.
According to proposals developed by the city's Community Redevelopment Agency and the office of Mayor Tom Bradley, such a center would be created in a "significant" historic building. The building, which would be rehabilitated with CRA funds, would be on or near downtown's Spring Street district, the stretch of Spring roughly from 3rd to 8th streets.
A similar center exists at the converted Ft. Mason military base in San Francisco.
Nonprofit cultural and arts organizations and individual artists would rent space in the center, which is envisioned as an economical "shared resource" housing offices, classrooms and rehearsal, gallery and performance spaces.
Bradley announced his support for the project during the Monday meeting held to solicit interest in the proposed center from arts organizations and individual artists.
About 200 persons attended the reception that was intended both as a public announcement of the project and as a way for the CRA to find out exactly what the arts and cultural organizations need and want from such a facility-- before it is established. Those invited to the meeting (about 1,000) were sent questionnaires, addressing needs from parking to capital expenditures.
"We discovered that artists (and arts organizations) in this community were living hand-to-mouth trying to find places to locate," Bradley said, "and having buildings taken away when owners had other things in mind. Now, the CRA has come to the rescue and said, 'We'll give the funds to provide a permanent home for the arts.'
"But the agency isn't going to go out and do this the way they think it should be done," Bradley went on. "They are calling on you to tell them what you think is best for you."
Among those attending were Peg Yorkin, director of the Los Angeles Public Theater and a member of Los Angeles Municipal Promotion, an informal coalition of arts groups that helped organize the reception; Bella Lewitzky, director of the modern dance company that carries her name, and Gordon Braithwaite, managing director of the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
After the reception, CRA Chairman James M. Wood said the size of a center, an exact location, artists' rental costs and lease terms and a monetary commitment from the CRA could not be determined until all the questionnaires have been collected and analyzed, which is expected to take about six weeks. If indeed a center is "feasible," he said, occupation of the building would not be until 1988.