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By Francisco Castro:

Board unanimously votes to direct staff to develop work plan for the creation of multipurpose arts facility in South Gate

With a unanimous vote of 5-0, including a resounding “Absolutely, Yes” from Supervisor Janice Hahn, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion proposed by Hahn and Supervisor Hilda Solis directing staff to develop a work plan for the creation of the SELA Cultural Center in South Gate and report back to the Board in 90 days.

“This is a project that I believe will be the new jewel in Southeast Los Angeles County,” said Hahn in her opening remarks when she brought the motion before the Board.

“Southeast LA has no shortage of creativity and culture, but what it does lack is the same access to world-class cultural institutions and investments that other communities have,” Hahn told Parriva.

janice hahn

The Frank Gehry-designed multipurpose (SELA) Cultural Center will include several buildings located on county-owned land near the Los Angeles River and the Rio Hondo.

Supervisor Solis represented the area prior to redistricting and Janice Hahn now has taken the mantle and is happy to do her part “to making this project a reality.”

“For too long, this part of Los Angeles has been underserved in terms of access to arts and culture. Residents of Southeast Los Angeles deserve the same access to arts that other areas of the county have,” continued Hahn, who is fully supportive of a petition by artists advocating for the construction of the center.

“Southeast LA has no shortage of creativity and culture, but what it does lack is the same access to world-class cultural institutions and investments that other communities have. This Center is going to showcase and incubate more of the great artistic and cultural assets here in SELA,” Janice Hahn told Parriva.

California Assembly Speaker Emeritus Anthony Rendon, who spoke before the Board took its vote, has already raised $132 million in state funding towards building the facility and relocating the county public works imperial yard to another location.

“Southeast LA has a stunning array of local artistic talent but none of the local institutions or resources of other areas of Los Angeles,” Rendon added.

“No district is more deserving or more in need of a cultural arts center than this one. This is an issue of artistic inequity,” said Rendon.

“Southeast LA has a stunning array of local artistic talent but none of the local institutions or resources of other areas of Los Angeles,” he added. “We don’t have the wealth, so we don’t get the art, or the music or the theater or the education opportunities. But with this project we can change all that.”

It’s the same sentiment shared by several local elected officials and artists who called in or showed up at the Board to express their support for the motion and the Center.

People like Salvador Diaz, a resident and member of Walnut Park Civic Engagement, who said “art is something that enriches the world.”

“It helps us better understand our world,” said Diaz, adding that it’s been proven that art also helps young people have more success in life.

Mario Vargas, Executive Director of the Lakewood Family YMCA, said he looked forward to “bringing our youth to the center to expand their horizons” and have them experience “the culture and art that they don’t see very often.”

“There is so much art and so much beauty in Southeast LA and it’s time to showcase it for the world to see,” Janice Hahn said

Arturo Gonzalez, and artist who founded the nonprofit Murals and Art Education group East Side of the River, spoke about “coming from a big cholo family” and how “art was always where I had solace.”

Growing up in East Los Angeles, he said he found other like-minded kids and they all “clung together like survivors of a shipwreck that gathered in liquor store parking lots and parks” to practice their arts.

“Developing this cultural center enables the people in our community who have a wealth of artistic talent and cultural pride to have the resources we deserve and gives us a home to develop our artistic skill and create future leaders,” Gonzalez said.

Janice Hahn agreed.

“There is so much art and so much beauty in Southeast L.A. and it’s time to showcase it for the world to see,” the Supervisor said, vowing that with the support of the Board and the rest of the county departments, “we will get it over the finish line.”

SIGN PETITION: SELA Cultural Arts Center is a GAME changer!

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