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DOWNTOWN : The Town Hall Is Getting Hip

August 15, 1993|IRIS YOKOI

The Town Hall of California, a public issues forum, has gained a lofty reputation over the years for attracting high-profile speakers such as Margaret Thatcher and Henry Kissinger.

Now, in an effort to temper its stodgy image, Town Hall organizers are turning to pop culture and promotions designed to appeal to the MTV generation in an effort to draw younger crowds.

Case in point: Among the upcoming scheduled speakers are stuntwomen from the movies "Jurassic Park" and "Cliffhanger." Booked for a reception Wednesday at the First Interstate World Center, 633 W. 5th Street, the stuntwomen's "audiovisual presentation will leave you feeling the chilly mountain air and the breath of a hungry velociraptor on the nape of your neck," says the news release for the event.

Organizers say they are purposely showing their playful side in an effort to soften the image of the 56-year-old organization, which began as a men's forum. The nonprofit organization has always hired young staff members to administer activities, but now these twentysomething employees are having more say about the programs and events so that they better reflect their interests.

"We're trying to branch out and be a little more diverse," said staff member and recent USC graduate Dmitri Williams, 21.

The result is that Town Hall has become more hip, staffers say.

Among the new offerings are an associates membership program begun three years ago for individuals 35 and younger. Associate members are invited to join Town Hall with a reduced first-year membership fee that offers the same benefits as a regular membership.

Associates make up about 10% of the total Town Hall membership of 4,000, organizers said.

Town Hall has also adopted an environmental attitude with a new Volunteer Corps program, which will begin Sept. 11 with a beach cleanup at El Segundo Dunes. Volunteer activities will be held periodically for Town Hall members interested in helping out the community and environment, organizers said.

Information: (213) 628-8141.

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