At last Monday night’s [Sept. 26] Council meeting, Council member Christopher Armenta took a favorable position for a Heart of Screenland Museum on Lot B. However, it seems that museum supporters will not have the three Council votes necessary to form an exploratory committee. As owner of a building on Town Plaza, I am directly affected by what happens to Lot B and would like the Council to reconsider.
An exploratory committee wouldn’t commit the City to anything, nor would it slow down the process of building on Lot B, rather it would open more options for successful development of Lot B.
Culver City already self-identifies as The Heart of Screenland. A museum is makes sense adjacent to the Culver Studios where David O. Selznik produced Gone With the Wind; where Orson Wells made Citizen Kane; and where Gregory Peck and many major stars had their offices. Or certainly trod those pavements. A sponsor, or sponsors (as Kirk Douglas did for the Kirk Douglas Theater), could back the museum. The City wouldn’t have to finance; funds can come from outside sources.
Organizations such as The Museum of Radio and Television in New York (which has a branch in Beverly Hills) may be interested in participating or even in managing the museum. The American Film Institute could be involved. A Museum has to be managed by museum professionals.
Think of the ancillary income: books, t-shirts and other memorabilia could be sold from such a museum. With the assistance of Sony Pictures– their enormous library–and with the assistance of the Culver City Historical Society and the wealth of Mrs. Lugos’s knowledge, a Heart of Screenland Museum could be fascinating and profitible for the City and also bring tourists. Town Plaza could even become a mini-Hollywood.
But without an exploratory committee, none of these possibilities will be…explored.
In the opinion of many I’ve spoken with in Culver City, the Lot B development needs to be mixed use. Combining residence, retail, and the arts is a successful and organic formula in established communities around the world. Mixed-use is being rediscovered by the most forward-looking developers, poiticians, economists in the world today.
The Heart of Screenland Museum could be on the 2nd or 3rd floor of the development…so the developer has enough ground floor retail to make the project viable. The Academy on Wilshire Boulevard has its museum on the 2nd floor.
But we won’t know the possibilities…unless we explore the possibilities.
Whatever we put up on Lot B will be there long after we are gone. What do we want our children and grandchildren to say about our actions? Did we work hard to give Culver City the special place it has in the Los Angeles landscape just to have our efforts go into yet another empty office building? And now, we have a Metro stop, right here. It can bring people to the Heart of Screenland as a destination, not merely ferry office workers in and out of Culver City. A destination benefits surrounding businesses.
Reconsider appointing an exploratory committee for a Heart of Screenland Museum. Culver City’s downtown stakeholders need to see that something is happening in this important matter and I think they’ll approve of the people who open up the possibilities.