History of Los Angeles Downtown Arts District Space
In 2004, LADAD Space was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit by long-time Arts District residents Lucy Jensen, Jonathan Jerald, and Timothy Keating. They felt the first tremors of gentrification and were concerned the massive changes they saw ahead would drive out the artists who had created a vital, thriving creative community at the edge of LA’s urban core.
This was a process that had been repeated in cities across the country and they were determined to create an entity that would fight to keep the arts – and the artists — in the Arts District.”
A thriving arts district, they believed, is a cultural and economic asset to the city – though it is a delicate part of the urban cultural fabric — and one difficult to quantify in economic terms.
They hoped that by supporting ongoing cultural activities and creating exciting art events they could encourage a perception of the area as a valuable incubator for the arts.
Indeed, artists such as George Herms and Paul McCarthy, actors Forrest Whitaker and Jenna Fisher, the singer Meshell Ndgeocello, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, creative organizations such as the Zoo District, Padua Playwrights and Cornerstone Theatre are among the individuals and organizations that once thrived (and a few still do) in the low-rent, derelict factory spaces and abandoned warehouses and that have had a profound impact on the cultural ecology of the region and far beyond.
LADADSpace created its own funding base with contributions from the film industry by providing an intermediary service that mitigates the impact of the more that 1,200 filming a days a year in the community. That income was later supplemented by foundation grants and corporate philanthropy. No public funding was sought or received until 2014 when LADADSpace received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the design of an Arts District Center for the Arts.
In the decade since it was created, LADADSpace has supported numerous cultural activities, including ground-breaking theater — such as the world premier of Murray Mednick’s Clown Show for Bruno, workshops and experimental productions by Padua Playwrights, art installations at various venues, including a retrospective of area art (25-Cents a Square Foot) featuring works by more than 50 local artists, a series of annual Arts District Winterfests: ten-day events that include open exhibitions of work by area artists, live music and theater.
LADADSpace has also given grants to artists and arts organizations in the community and has emerged as an activist organization that works with city and other cultural entities to create and support events that help make Los Angeles a cultural destination. LADADSpace has also played a significant role in developing affordable housing for artists and creating new venues for theater, music and art exhibitions in the community.