Today, LA Weekly published an article about the myriad difficulties facing independent arts and music spaces in Los Angeles’ East Side. Reading the article made me angry again about the 2010 closing of Echo Curio and scared anew about the future of spaces like Pehr.
We did just elect a new city councilman, though. Thus, now is a great time for those of us who care about these venues to express ourselves. Mitch O’Farrell, the new councilman, campaigned on his knowledge of the district and his engagement with the citizens therein – so we have every reason to believe that he’ll listen to us.
As the LA Weekly article suggests, there are several people making a concerted effort to destroy what we want to protect. Certainly, these folks are making their cases to the councilman-elect. We should also make our case to him, so that he doesn’t see it as a one-sided issue.
So, if you care about independent art and music in LA, I hope that you’ll take some time to tell Mitch O’Farrell that you do. His campaign email address was Mitch@MitchforCityCouncil.org, but since the campaign is over I decided to send a message to his Facebook account. I’m really not sure what the best method is.
This is the letter I wrote:
Hi Mr. O’Farrell:
Congratulations on becoming the next city councilman for District 13. I supported your election and I’m not only happy that you won but that you did so with grassroots support against a well-financed machine candidate, John Choi. That’s awesome.
Now that you’ve been elected, I’d like to draw your attention to an article in LA Weekly about the difficulties faced by independent arts and music spaces that operate in District 13. While I understand that there are legitimate concerns from both residents and club owners in Echo Park, onerous fees and aggressive legal tactics have had a deleterious effect on the creative capital of a region that is known and admired for its creative capital.
As a long term participant in the venues here, I can attest to the positive impact of spaces like Echo Curio, Pehrspace, Sancho and the Echo Country Outpost which have unique value as magnets for the types of thinkers and artists who make Echo Park such a vibrant, desirable communities. The Echo is certainly expert at making money and drawing big acts like the Rolling Stones, but part of the reason it’s so successful is that the ground here is so fertile. The artists, musicians, curators and promoters that make the independent scene work are responsible for that fertility, and many of them will use the lessons they’ve learned and connections they’ve made to create profitable creative ventures (many of them, ironically, hosted or produced by people like Mitchell Frank) in the near future.
So, as you look at this issue, I sincerely hope that you take take both sides into consideration. Surely there are things that can be done to create a strong and legal balance that takes everyone’s concerns into account and keeps our creative culture vibrant! I don’t presume to have a specific solution, but I sincerely urge you to work for one.
Geoff Geis, Glassell Park