FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 11, 2013
ICONIC WORLD STAGE PERFORMANCE GALLERY UNDER ATTACK COMMUNITY RALLY, SATURDAY, OCT. 19, 1 PM
Contact: Conney Williams
The World Stage, Artistic Director
[Los Angeles, CA]-Iconic cultural institution The World Stage Performance Gallery is being threatened with eviction. In what community members are calling an attempt to gentrify the Crenshaw District’s Leimert Park neighborhood in preparation for the forthcoming Crenshaw Line Leimert Park Station, eight long-time Leimert Park businesses have recently been informed that their leases will not be renewed or they have been served eviction-related notices, including The World Stage. A press conference will be held to discuss these issues on Wednesday, October 16, 4 PM and a community rally on Saturday, October 19, 1 PM at The World Stage Performance Gallery, 4344 Degnan Bl., LA, CA 90008.
According to The World Stage’s board president Wiley Brown, soon after the city council voted to approve the Crenshaw Line on May 22, the eviction notices began to arrive. “It’s unethical, and frankly, shameful that the women and men, the culturally-aware business owners who helped to make Leimert Park a cultural landmark for the African American community, are being forced out at a time when the Crenshaw Line Leimert Park Station is going to bring unparalleled business opportunities to the area. The city leaders cannot let this happen,” Brown said.
Brown and community stakeholders organized a meeting with 10th District City Councilman Herb Wesson, who failed to show, but later his chief deputy Deron Williams arrived. According to jazz singer and World Stage board member Dwight Trible, who was at the meeting, Williams agreed to:
1) organize a meeting with the property owners who were seeking to evict the long-time African American tenants 2) work through the city council to designate Leimert Park as a cultural landmark 3) work to help finance a “light and signage package” which would bring business-friendly neon-lights and attractive signage for Leimert Park businesses and 4) organize a meeting between the property owners and the African American business owners who are being forced out.
According to Trible, when the stakeholders tried contact Wesson’s office to follow up on the meeting, initially, their phone calls were not returned and, ultimately, a Wesson staffer confessed that “they had hit a roadblock.”
“I was upset that Wesson was not at the stakeholder meeting, but chief deputy Williams looked us all in the eye and seemed so genuinely concerned. He said that he was from the community and he would not standby and let this happen. That’s why I was so shocked when Wesson’s office completely dismissed us when we called to follow up on their promises to Leimert Park. The stakeholders in this community are facing an existential crises and Herb Wesson, our elected representative, has turned his back on us,” Trible said.
Spurned by Wesson, The World Stage is in the middle of an emergency capital campaign. It is taking donations through its website (theworldstage.org) in an effort to raise $25,000, while simultaneously working on a long-range strategic financial plan.