Broadway in its heyday.  Early 1950s, looking north on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles.

Broadway in its heyday. Early 1950s, looking north on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles.

With a major grant from ArtPlace, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) is leading the effort to create the Broadway Cultural Quarter (BCQ), an initiative to revitalize Downtown LA by developing a Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) to attract and retain arts and educational nonprofits and for-profit creative enterprises.

The BCQ will be anchored by (1) the Broadway Arts Center (BAC), a mixed-use development featuring affordable artists’ housing; a blackbox theater; an art gallery; and creative enterprise space being developed by a limited liability corporation recently created by Artspace and the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC); and (2) a Downtown campus for the California Institute of Arts (CalArts).  The Broadway Cultural Quarter will be the result of an overarching visionary design by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne and his firm, Morphosis Architects.

ArtPlace recently spoke to Scott Weiner, President and CEO of the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, which is a key partner in the Broadway Cultural Quarter project.

ArtPlace: How will the work you’ve begun be sustained after your ArtPlace grant?

Scott Weiner: The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation has been working with our partner, Artspace Projects, Inc., for two years to get our vision for a mixed-use building incorporating affordable artists’ housing and complementary arts and cultural space in downtown Los Angeles off the ground. Our project team originally researched the feasibility of such a project with the help of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This research confirmed that there was a market for what we envisioned, particularly in the area around Broadway, which is a street downtown with the highest concentration of historic theaters in the country and the site for the Bringing Back Broadway Initiative of Councilman José Huizar. The ArtPlace grant has allowed us to take the next step and investigate the viability of a number of specific sites for this building, which we refer to as the Broadway Arts Center. By the end of the grant period, we will have identified a preferred site and will make our best effort to establish site control.

The ArtPlace grant has also allowed us to increase awareness of the project within the Los Angeles community as well as the arts and entertainment industry. We have been successful in attracting financial support from the MusiCares Foundation, an organization that serves the welfare of the music community, and are confident that as we complete the ArtPlace grant deliverables, we will continue to attract funding and support for the project. It is this growing support network, made possible by the ArtPlace grant and the achievements it has funded to-date, which will sustain us through the next phases of work necessary to create the Broadway Arts Center.

Once completed, the Broadway Arts Center will be a brick-and-mortar project that will institutionalize the placemaking goals of all of our stakeholders. As an affordable residence for low-income artists, a community cultural space, and a potential home to an incubator for creative businesses, this mixed-use building will be a catalyst for vibrancy in downtown Los Angeles. Long after the ArtPlace grant, the building and the activities and interaction it sparks will energize the neighborhood.

ArtPlace: Have new options for sustainability emerged during the grant period?

Scott Weiner: The Broadway Arts Center will serve as an anchor for the Broadway Cultural Quarter, whose development is also being expertly coordinated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) under this ArtPlace grant. Other components of the grant and of the Quarter include overarching urban planning and design by Pritzker Prize-winning Thom Mayne and Morphosis Architects, and planning for a new CalArts campus for their Master of Fine Arts program in Theater.

DCA has facilitated an ever-expanding working group for the Broadway Cultural Quarter, which includes for-profit developers and the philanthropic community. This group has served as a source of guidance for our smaller project team devoted to the development of the Broadway Arts Center and presents possibilities for ongoing collaboration after the grant period.

ArtPlace: Will this work live beyond the grant period?

Scott Weiner: The development team, DCA and the Broadway Cultural Quarter working group are committed to the development of the Broadway Arts Center. The buy-in and support from stakeholders across multiple sectors creates a strong foundation for its actualization.

ArtPlace: How has this work affected the work you will do beyond the grant period?

Scott Weiner: The work we have done under the ArtPlace grant is the necessary groundwork enabling the eventual construction of the Broadway Arts Center. Without the ArtPlace grant, we would not be able to conceive of it becoming a reality. With a site identified, we will be able to draft preliminary architectural plans and begin to structure the financing that will make this building sustainable for the long-term.

Broadway in its heyday.  Early 1950s, looking north on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles.

More Posts

DECEMBER 29, 2012

Broadway Cultural Corridor

Los Angeles, CA
SEPTEMBER 19, 2012

Broadway Cultural Quarter

Los Angeles, CA