$200K Saves Downtown Artwalk - NBC Southern California

$200K Saves Downtown Artwalk

Property owners pony up money after the monthly event was abruptly postponed

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    $200K Saves Downtown Artwalk

    After rumors of cancellation, an announced postponement, the drama surrounding the popular downtown art walk appears to be over -- at least for now.

    "The story conducted by NBC and other news outlets, played a big role for action to be taken," said Rex Bruce, owner of the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art.

    Property owners brought together by downtown developer Tom Gilmore contribute about $200,000 per year for the event with the stipulation that the emphasis be put on art..  The money will pay for a full time executive director and some programming.

    NBCLA along with several online news organization chronicled the drama that was unfolding among the art walk board and it's now former part-time executive director, Jay Lopez, who announced a postponement of art walk until 2011.

    The Trend: What's Up with Artwalk

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    “I think Jay paused art walk for a grab for control,” said Bruce. “Nobody ever agreed to shut down the art walk and none of the other gallery owners knew about it, at least I was never notified.”

    The board fired Lopez and re-instituted art walk.

    “I don’t know why Jay is behaving like this,” said Bonnie Tseng, member of the art walk board of directors.
    Rex Bruce believe Lopez and Bert Green, owner of Bert Green Fine Art gallery, conspired to take over the event and kill it because it was getting too big.

    “They worked together for sure. They had it all planned, there is no doubt in my mind,” said Bruce. “The size of the crowd ruins the business aspect of the event and its legitimacy. This is why I believe that Bert and Jay had a personal agenda. They wanted to eradicate the art walk to save their galleries from the physical damage… and financial gain.”

    Green refused to comment.  Lopez denied having a hidden agenda.

    At the core of the drama is the crowds.  Upwards of 20,000 fill the streets for the all night event, and not all are there for the art.

    Business owners report some vandalism during past art walks.
    Los Angeles Police have increased their presence, but wanted business owners to contribute to the cost of patrols.

    It's unclear how much of the $200,000 paid by property owners will go to security.

    What is clear is that art walk appears to back, and bankrolled by property owners who see the value in the crowds that have made the event one of the largest in the neighborhood.