It's hard to quantify what a loss the World Stage would be. How do you put a price tag on art, on culture, on history?
I thought about that as I watched talented but unheralded jazz musicians raise the roof Thursday night inside the crowded storefront.
I don't know how you measure the value of a jam session with no audience, but a lineup that brings together on stage a Harvard-educated cardiologist and a man whose home is a shopping cart, both belting out music that feeds the spirit on carefully-tended trumpets.
Maybe this threat will turn out to be a wake-up call for the World Stage and the area's jazz lovers. The group is more than halfway to its $25,000 fundraising goal, and big-name musicians are being enlisted for a benefit concert next month.
But beyond money, the group needs new blood. "We're in a time warp," said drummer Cornel Fauler, who teaches a class for children. As we talked, a clutch of young men in sagging pants ambled by with hip-hop blasting.
Fauler, watching from the World Stage doorway, said, "We need a bridge to that."
World Stage board members agree. "It's time to train up the babies," said vocalist Dwight Trible, who kicked off last month's Leimert Park rally with a $1,000 donation. He's trying to raise money for a summer jazz and art program for children, and concerts pairing young jazz and hip-hop artists.
Moving from Leimert Park Village is a possibility, he said, if it means the World Stage can grow.
"Most of the innovations that happened in jazz have come by way of young people," he said. "The older generation wants to hang on to tradition and familiarity. But that's the opposite of what jazz is all about — moving forward."