Fund Drive for Arts Center Is Extended

A nonprofit Venice arts group working to transform the long-vacant Venice Pavilion into a community arts facility for low-income children has an extra six months to raise the $1.5 million it needs to refurbish the building.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks commissioners granted the Venice Arts Mecca a six-month extension to finish fund-raising because the group raised only $425,000 in the last 18 months. The commissioners also asked the Arts Mecca to return in 90 days with a detailed cost estimate of the project. The group’s leaders had asked for a year to finish their capital campaign.

“Even though it wasn’t exactly what we had wanted, we feel good about it,” said Lynn Warshafsky, president of the Arts Mecca’s board of directors. “We feel confident we’re going to know the outcome of our campaign within six months.”

The Arts Mecca, which was created four years ago to bring art to low-income children, serves about 120 youngsters each season with free workshops ranging from a pops orchestra to architecture classes. The workshops are held in schools and studios scattered throughout the Westside, but Warshafsky said moving into the pavilion will allow the organization to reach more children and expand its programs.


“There has been a lot of excitement about creating something positive in our community that is logical for our community,” Warshafsky said. “Venice is L.A.'s arts center and has the highest rate of people at or below the poverty level on the Westside--what a wonderful marriage of social needs and all the creative energy in the community.”

Transforming the pavilion into an arts center has been a source of contention in Venice, with some arguing that the 37-year-old building should be torn down and others fighting to use it as a skate park or marine center.


In August 1995, the commissioners granted the Arts Mecca a pre-lease agreement for the building, and since then the group has completed an environmental document, negotiated a lease and finished an architectural design, but fell short in raising its goal of $1.5 million.


Warshafsky told the commissioners the group has $2 million in grant requests out to various corporations and foundations, adding that she was confident it would meet its goal.