Dark Cloud of Eviction Hangs Over LATC Entities

Latino Theater Company and Latino Museum of History Face Eviction Amid Lawsuits

By Carlos San Miguel 

Los Angeles, CA  — A dark cloud hangs over the usually vibrant & beautifully regal Los Angeles Theater Center in downtown L.A. The venerable & award-winning Latino Theater Company & the Latino Museum of History, Art and Culture are BOTH facing possible eviction within a week or two. The clock is ticking.

On Jan 18th – the LA City Council voted in private session (after a public hearing) to evict both the LTC and the LMHAC within 45 days. The City Council asserts that both organizations have not met certain contract agreements or provided specific documentation, receipts, etc.

It’s a somewhat complicated (and for theater & art lovers a sad) “behind the scenes” situation that has been developing the last few years – including the Latino Museum suing the Latino Theater Company in 2009 and followed by a counter-suit – with both sides accusing the other of not completing their end of the deal which was struck in 2006 when the Latino Theater Company was awarded a 20 year contract for stewardship of the LATC – which is owned/ regulated by the City of Los Angeles.

Jose Luis Valenzula, Exec Director/Artistic Director of the Latino Theater Company

But it’s not too late to change the situation. Supporters of the Los Angeles Theater Center have seen for themselves the great work that is being done, there can contact Herb Wesson, President of the Los Angeles City Council and/or also their local Council Member from their district – and express support of the Latino Theater Company & their mission to provide artistic diversity to Los Angeles. & that they should NOT be evicted.

Many such supporters have already taken to spreading the word among friends and families and by posting on Facebook and taking to Twittering. Very few media outlets have carried the story and it seems social media once again will play an important part in this issue.

In the last decade the LATC has become a strong center to the artistic, social and cultural revitalization of L.A. downtown area – including giving a home to multi-cultural theater artists of all backgrounds. Not just for the Latino Theater Company but also for Robey Theater Company and various guest productions and co-productions which have received excellent reviews – including the current co-production with the Urban Latino Theater Movement of Miguel Pinero’s Short Eyes which has been extended by popular demand ‘til March 18th. 

Considering the dearth of Latina/o theater (or multi-cultural theater of any kind) in Los Angeles the LATC has seemed like a shinning beacon for both artists and audiences to explore and enjoy an ongoing smorgasbord of cultural diversity, art & education. With it’s 4 theaters always offering a multitude of performances and host to theater festivals and various fundraisers it would be a shame to see that change.

The Latino Theater Company was formed in 1984 under the auspices of the LATC, moving from one location to another after the LATC closure in the early 90’s – but always maintaining quality award-winning productions and an ever growing, loyal and diverse audience every year. In 1988, the LTC was instrumental in bringing the Chicano theater troupe Culture Clash to Los Angeles from the Bay Area, including in 1990 premiering their seminal work A Bowl of Beings which ran at LATC for four months. As well, LTC has always persevered with an equal focus on education to train & mentor the next generation of stage professionals, from students at UCLA, USC and other local universities to high school & elementary kids thru summer workshops and other events. And for many consecutive years producing a large scale Christmas production, La Virgen de Guadalupe, Dios Inanzti at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels for free admission and involving tons of community members. This is a theater company truly committed to their mission statement and deserves the chance to remain at LATC.

So what happens now? That’s a good question, but the answer remains unclear at this point. The Latino Museum has begun looking to move elsewhere – including approaching UCLA, USC and other venue options – which actually might result in a better situation overall. Clearly when the LATC was renovated 30 years ago from an old bank into a theater venue – the space for displaying artwork is kind of limited to the main lobby and to the basement space downstairs.

Assuming all issues and financial matters can be resolved very soon – it would be nice to know multi-cultural artists still have a home and advocates in a large scale theater in the heart of downtown, something that is sorely lacking across the city.

To contact the City Council and voice your opinion go to: http://www.lacity.org/YourGovernment/CityCouncil/index.htm

To read up or listen to more on the LATC eviction, check out the following links:

KPCC Radio – audio segment/ print story

http://www.scpr.org/news/2012/01/23/30911/city-la-moves-evict-two-latino-focused-arts-organi/

LA Downtown News – article 1

http://www.ladowntownnews.com/news/future-uncertain-after-latc-eviction-notice/article_4e7b70d0-43bf-11e1-83ef-0019bb2963f4.html

LA Downtown News – article 2

http://www.ladowntownnews.com/opinion/latc-failure-is-distressing-and-depressing/article_cd0054ce-4ec4-11e1-81e8-001871e3ce6c.html

To read the full message from the managing entity the Latino Theater Company “The Show Must Go on – a statement from the Latino Theater Co. Board of Directors” you can go to

http://thelatc.org/2012/news/the-show-must-go-on/

Here is an excerpt of the statement:

“With all of your help and support, the Latino Theater Company looks forward to furthering our mission as we present our 2012 theater seasons with such powerful productions as The Vault Ensemble’s “Bankrupt” with more downtown L.A. stories; Playwrights’ Arena’s “The Girl Most Likely To” by Filipino-American playwright Michael Premsrirat about a boy who wants to live as a girl; Latino Theater Company’s “Charity: Part III of A Mexican Trilogy” that follows the diaspora of Mexicans in the U.S. from the Mexican Revolution to the present; Marcus Gardley’s “the road weeps, the well runs dry” in collaboration with the Lark Play Development Center in New York about Seminole Indians and African Americans, “Refugee Nation” by TeAda productions about Laotian refugees and their descendants, Celeste Bedford Walker’s African-American military drama “Camp Logan” produced by Robey Theater Company, and Lisa Loomer’s “Café Vida” about the Homegirl Café, a Cornerstone Theater Production.

Leave a comment below and share your opinions/ ideas on this developing story. The LATC – in it’s current form – has proven a valuable cultural hub and must live on as it has done an excellent job of serving the community of Los Angeles.  If you wish to contact the City Council you can go to http://www.lacity.org/YourGovernment/CityCouncil/index.htm

Forward this link & spread the word ASAP – Remember It’s not over ‘til La Gorda sings! or in other words ¡Si Se Puede!

Info on the two entities:

http://thelatc.org/ – For current & upcoming performance schedules, etc

http://thelatinomuseum.com – For current/ upcoming & online exhibitions