On Dec. 13, 2021, the Culver City City Council unanimously approved the Wende Museum’s proposal for a Creative Community Center at 10858 Culver Boulevard. In the December 13 meeting, dozens of Culver City residents and community stakeholders spoke in favor of the proposal and cited the importance of leveraging the City-owned property for the increased access to arts, culture, and enrichment services that the Center promises to bring to the neighborhood. The phased construction of the Center will also include 100% affordable housing for international and local artists facilitated in partnership with the New York-based Artistic Freedom Initiative.
The decision by the City Council was led by newly-appointed mayor, Daniel Lee, who shared that “the creation of the Wende’s Creative Community Center—in conjunction with its partner organizations—signals Culver City’s commitment to ensuring access and engagement for all. Further, the eventual completion of this project will include much-needed affordable housing for international and local artists right here in our own community.”
Culver City-based nonprofit organizations the Wende Museum, the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, United States Veterans’ Artist Alliance, Upward Bound House, and the Artistic Freedom Initiative will activate this first-of-its-kind center—which will combine cultural and educational programming—at 10858 Culver Boulevard.
A dynamic and diverse community deserves a hub to match. The proposal was guided by the vision of Glorya Kaufman, a legendary patron of the performing arts in Los Angeles whose foundation will also underwrite the capital project. Outreach included a number of public forums hosted by the Wende Museum, an open house, and a series of smaller meetings and discussions with neighbors, nonprofit leaders, and people across Culver City’s communities.
Designed by AUX Architecture, the Creative Community Center will be a 7,000-square-foot mixed-use space for culture, education, tutoring, and social services provided by the participating organizations. The Center will incorporate a theater for live performance, a demonstration garden, art space for veterans, housing for artists, and a dedicated place for students of the Culver City Unified School District.
All programs will be provided to the community free of charge, thanks to the generous support of the Glorya Kaufman Foundation. Kaufman’s philanthropy has transformed communities throughout Southern California, empowering grassroots organizations such as Inner-City Arts, Vista del Mar Child and Family Services, St. John’s Hospital, Venice Family Clinic, The Covenant House, Mar Vista Family Center, and the Jules Stein Eye Clinic, and educating the next generation of dance artists through the eponymous USC Kaufman School of Dance. Her support of the Creative Community Center will have a ripple effect across generations.
“With my grandchild and great-grandchildren residing in Culver City, my partnership with the Wende Museum is as personal as it is philanthropic,” Kaufman shared. “I am honored to help bring to life an innovative vision for much-needed community space to benefit diverse audiences through a broad array of artistic programs and cultural learning opportunities for all ages.”
The approval of the Creative Community Center proposal signals the return of the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum to Culver City, following its eviction from a nearby location in August 2019. The Creative Community Center will provide sustained access to one of the most important archives of African American culture in the country through programs, exhibitions, projects, lectures, and special events in perpetuity, while the sizable Clayton collection is housed at CSU Dominguez Hills.
The involvement of the United States Veterans’ Artist Alliance will continue the tradition that began 70 years ago in the former AmVets building on the City-owned site, providing space for veterans to engage artistically with one another and with their communities.
Likewise, the inclusion of the Artistic Freedom Initiative will provide much-needed housing and support for artists who have experienced persecution, censorship, or other restrictions on their freedom of expression.
Speaking about the decision, Christine Glasco, the Executive Director of Upward Bound House, shared that the Creative Community Center partnership “will ensure that low-income families in Culver City live well and thrive.” Upward Bound House works to eliminate homelessness among families with children. At the Creative Community Center, families will have access to Upward Bound House Services as well as all of the cultural and educational programming offered by other partner organizations.
The Wende Museum, which will coordinate operations at the new Center, expresses its heartfelt thanks to the Culver City City Council for supporting the vision of the Creative Community Center. In the coming months, the Wende and the team at AUX Architecture will continue working side-by-side with Culver City officials through the permitting, and eventually construction, phases of this fully funded, cooperative initiative. Construction is planned to commence in late-winter 2022, and the Center is projected to open to the community in 2023.
Graphic credit – AUX Architecture