Local theater makes a comeback

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News:


imageThe Vision Theatre was once a booming movie palace and Judy Pace remembers it well.

“It is such a pleasure to be in my own community,” Pace said. “Standing here, in my own theater. And I am one who will admit as a kid, I came to the movies here. When Leimert Park still had a covenant where you could not buy a house in Leimert Park.”

Pace and other celebrities joined Councilman Bernard Parks at the theater to announce that the city is funding a project that will restore and renovate the eighty year old building.

“This theater, in my judgment, will become the economic engine for Leimert Park Village,” Parks said. “We believe it will have everything from a grade-school graduation to live performances to plays, to ninety-nine seat theaters. A variety of things that will bring people to the Vision several hundred times a year.”

The project will also include a Junior Arts Center that will provide programs for local children.

“I am so looking forward to all of the wonderful productions that will be held here, and all of the young people who will be trained here,” Pace said. “And all of you who will come and buy tickets here.”

In fact, ticket sales used to thrive at the Vision Theatre until the 1990s, when business declined because of the Los Angeles riots and an economic recession.

Actress Marla Gibbs owned the theater at the time, but could no longer make the payments. She was at Thursday’s announcement to celebrate the theater’s revival.

“I’m sorry we’re losing the classic lines of this old building, but time does march on and buildings do start to crumble,” she said. “So I’m glad we’re doing it before it does start to crumble.”

The project is expected to cost nearly $22 million dollars and will consist of four phases. Phase one of the project will begin in the next few weeks and is expected to take 12 months to complete. And if funding comes through for all of these phases, the city hopes to finish the project in three years.

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