Arts ReSTORE LA: Westwood. An urban renewal project by the Hammer Museum

submission by Hammer Museum

Organization Name

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Hammer Museum

Website

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www.hammer.ucla.edu

Indicator

Please select the one indicator that is most relevant to your project or organization: Arts & Cultural Vitality

What is your idea and how will it impact your indicator?

:

The Hammer Museum proposes to tap into the thriving Los Angeles creative community as a strategy to revitalize communities and villages throughout the city. Los Angeles faces some significant challenges posed by urban sprawl, lack of a comprehensive public transportation system, and traffic congestion, and as a result, it often feels like a collection of smaller disparate areas. Given the incredible artistic and entrepreneurial output that is now happening in Los Angeles (the most concentrated in the world), there is a real opportunity to infuse the artists, artisans, craftspeople and creative makers of all kinds into neighborhoods as a unique and effective way to help define and energize them. Specifically, the Hammer would use its incredible network of local talent and expertise in arts and culture to curate an artisanal pop-up village in Westwood and offer a long term strategy to turn the neighborhood around permanently.

We propose to work with the building owners in the village to provide work and retail space for artists and artisans in greater Los Angeles to sell their wares and artistic output. Westwood has struggled significantly in recent years due to a confusing identity, and lagging commercial real estate market. Even though Westwood Village is highly walkable and convenient, with parking all around, there is a consistently high rate of retail vacancies and turnover of existing businesses. On Westwood Blvd, the main thoroughfare in the Village, and adjacent to the Hammer, 30 of the 78 storefronts are vacant – earning Westwood Village the highest retail vacancy rate in west Los Angeles. We believe this once thriving neighborhood can recover if it approaches its troubles with a strategy that has proved effective over and over again throughout the country—work with the creative community.

The Hammer has already had extensive conversations with the key property owners who share our stake in the neighborhood about ways to reinvigorate what should be an energetic and economically healthy community. Our vision is that the Hammer would curate a pop-up village (like a group exhibition) of artists, artisans and makers of all kinds to activate these empty unused spaces with designers of furniture, clothing, ceramics, jewelry and other locally produced goods and crafts. In advance of the holiday season we would offer a place for an eclectic array of object makers to display their work. Artists could also use the spaces as open studios where they could engage with the public and exhibit and sell artwork.

Additionally, the Hammer has proposed to the owners of several vacant restaurants that a curated series of emerging chefs be in residence at the various locations during the length of the pop-up village. The Hammer would be the gateway to the village and accordingly would market and promote the pop-up village and would hold anchor events, such as performances, music sets by local DJs, art installations, etc. in our public Courtyard. For the period of the pop-up village, we would make affordable parking available (it is currently only $3.00) and create maps and informational brochures on the participating artists and create tie-in experiences between the Hammer and artist storefronts and events.

While this initial pilot idea would be akin to a curated live version of etsy.com, the goal would be to sustain and replicate the idea to revitalize the neighborhood permanently. The Hammer would help facilitate a longer presence of artists as merchants in Westwood Village, working as a facilitator between all stakeholders. We would also seek to serve as a catalyst and replicate this model beyond the grant period in other neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles, contributing to a future for Los Angeles where strong community development is fueled by the arts.

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

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Over the past decade plus, the Hammer Museum has transformed itself into one of the most innovative and well-respected arts and cultural institutions in Los Angeles. One important focus of our exhibitions and artist programs is highlighting emerging and under-recognized artists. Last summer we organized L.A.’s first ever biennial exhibition, Made in L.A. 2012, which showcased 60 emerging local artists in four venues across the city. The Hammer is also proud of its 14 year old Hammer Projects exhibition series which features emerging local and international artists in what is often their first solo museum exhibition in the United States. Through our public engagement program, launched in 2010, the Hammer has established itself as a leader in innovation through unique and unexpected artist projects that challenge visitors’ notions of traditional museum experiences. As a cultural center, the Hammer also attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year to our multidisciplinary public programs which take place in our state-of-the-art Billy Wilder Theater and adjacent Courtyard, and which include literary readings, artist performances, film screenings, musical acts, meditation sessions, and scholarly and popular culture presentations. All of the Hammer’s public programs are free to the public and we feel strongly that we could be helpful to both artists and our neighbors if the vitality and sense of community that the Hammer enjoys could spill out into our commercial neighborhood as well.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

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So far, the Hammer has laid considerable groundwork to implement this idea in Westwood Village during summer 2013. We have met with the property owners of vacant storefronts in the Village to ensure free or minimal rents, and have had several dialogues with stakeholders and partners at UCLA, including CityLAB, part of the Department of Architecture and Urban Design, and the Center for the Art of Performance.
We also plan to work with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority to help promote the Village over the summer on the routes that stop near Westwood, and would reach out to existing businesses, student groups, neighborhood councils, press outlets, etc. to help realize the project. The Hammer would also leverage its popular

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

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We will use qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate this project and use this data to help craft sustainability plans (more permanent artists presence in Westwood Village) as well as replication plans (curating artists projects in other neighborhoods and communities). We will track foot traffic, visitors to artists’ stores and existing businesses in the village, press coverage, sales figures, and Hammer attendance. We will also solicit feedback through our social media channels from visitors and participating artists. One of the goals of this initiative is to further the Hammer’s mission of supporting artists and their careers, and an important measure of success will be how this experience enables artists to engage with new audiences, sell their work, and increase their visibility in the community.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles? Please be specific.

In the past 25 years Los Angeles has become a thriving cultural economy with 1 in 8 jobs within the creative sector, and the city has earned a reputation as a premier arts destination. Yet while there is now so much creative energy and talent across Los Angeles, there isn’t a cohesive approach to connect artists to audiences in a way that integrates and revitalizes the existing infrastructure of communities and neighborhoods. And there is no direct artist to consumer opportunity except for occasional festivals and fairs. Temporary or narrowly defined opportunities exist, such as farmers markets, arts festivals and business-sponsored artist commissions, but these lack the type of lasting impact on place that we seek to address. And although Los Angeles has no shortage of shopping opportunities or dedicated areas with a high concentration of retail businesses, it is more difficult to find a place where residents and tourists can access unique, locally or hand-made products on an ongoing basis. This proposed movement of instigating artisanal marketplaces in underutilized communities has the potential for a lasting impact on these neighborhoods, with pop-up markets developing into long-term storefronts featuring L.A. artists and their products.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

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Los Angeles would continue its climb as a leading creative center in the nation, and as a top tourist destination for arts and culture (beyond beach and amusement parks). The local artists community would be nourished, thrive, and enjoy real and meaningful connections with residents of the City. The arts would have an important place in economic revitalization strategies, and urban design and planning would consider the impact and influence of arts and artists as a matter of course. Neighborhoods and communities, such as Westwood Village would become vibrant marketplaces that defy homogenization and regularly feature unique locally-crafted wares, and places where new artists can be discovered. Cultural institutions would consider it part of their mission to investigate and influence their surrounding neighborhoods by connecting their artistic expertise and output with the specific needs and capabilities of the community.

Discussion
24 Pink-talk-bubble-tail

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As a native of the Westside I spent my teen years hanging out in Westwood in the late 70's and 80's. It was a vibrant place for three reasons. 1. Parking was cheap and plentiful. 2. Lots of folks walking around. 3. Street musicians.
It would seem to me that it would be fairly simple to create a setting like 3rd St Promenade.. Close Braxton off to pedestrians only. Allow street musicians and performers and convince UCLA (who owns most of not all of the parking lots in Westwood) to reduce parking rates in the pm and weekends. One of their lots is a nightmare and should be torn down and rebuilt. It's not that freakin' hard!!! Closing Braxton alone would be a great start!

by emcbee
about 1 year ago | Reply

Terrific idea - just what Westwood Village needs: an imaginative practical idea that will bring the Village back to life.

by sunkab
over 1 year ago | Reply

As a graduate of UCLA School of Film and Television , I loved hanging out in Westwood with my buddies after long days of editing! Recently I went into Westwood and was shocked to see how much the Village had declined. I absolutely believe in the power of arts and culture to revitalize a community. I would absolutely love to be a part of the process and would like to get more information on the project.

by lacarnivalblockparty
about 1 year ago | Reply

I am so happy that this project is moving forward. The possibilities are endless - congratulations!!!

by sirinyamatute
about 1 year ago | Reply

The desertification of Westwood Village may have something to do with an elephant in the room: UCLA. The University probably needs to capture retail dollars from students, staff and faculty, resulting in ever more food and retail outlets and entertainment events to keep folks on campus. Perhaps the University+Medical Center's need to control its own security and traffic flows has resulted in contruction projects that drive customers away from in the Village retailers. If the Village makes a comeback, it may need the University and Medical Center to want it to thrive.
One partial parallel to the Westwood Village mess may beat at UC Santa Barbara, where the once thriving (if funky) business community in Isla Vista were decimated in the early 2000's after the Campus opened its huge University Center with its food courts, hair salons, expanded bookstore and outdoor plaza with a solid calendar of event programming and weekly artisan fairs. Stuff that students needed and wanted was suddenly brought onto campus, albeit sometimes at premium price. In the years since, UCSB has been pushed and prodded by the Santa Barbara City, County and City of Goleta, to become a more responsible neighbor with regard to traffic flows and campus construction. The campus has been practicing on itself to become more of a regional place to live and work and less of an ivory tower. At the same time, many more campus events are brought off campus to downtown Santa Barbara, arranging buses from the University to bring students out to play in the real world.
Elaine LeVasseur

by LeVasseur
over 1 year ago | Reply

Hi Elaine,

You raise a good point, and I enjoyed reading about the UCSB experience. I work for UCLA but not in an
advocacy role. I can speak, though, as someone who has been observing Westwood Village politics for awhile, as someone who used to live in Westwood Village, and someone who has read the entire (!) Westwood Village Specific Plan and its addendums. I've also managed a campaign to elect a slate to the inaugural board of the Westwood Neighborhood Council. I think the relationship UCLA plays with the village is a complex one. I'm really glad that UCLA is a voluntary paying member of the BID. I know the BID director talks all the time to people at UCLA, including staff and students. I think there's a push-pull effect with the retail uses on campus--undoubtedly the people on the campus are a captive audience for the on-campus retail. But I think it is important to consider people's willingness to travel to buy a prepared meal. It's mostly impractical to drive a car to lunch (don't get me wrong, I see people do it, but it's often more trouble than it is worth). Generally, the travel behavior research suggests that people are willing to walk between 5 to 10 minutes to get somewhere before they start hankering to drive. If you do a pedestrian walking shed on a map, you'll see that for many people at UCLA, you can walk 5-10 minutes... and still be on campus. So the likeliness that people will meander down to Westwood Village for lunch was never very high. The restaurants along Le Conte probably do okay business at lunch time provided they are fast-food or fast-casual formats from people who work within 5-10 minutes walking.

As for the retail uses, you are right; ASUCLA has added retail to the campus over the past 20 years. I think it is hard to figure out the whole chicken-egg thing; don't forget that there was a time that there were no grocery stores in Westwood Village. We ought to research whether the opening of the various convenience stores on campus popped up more or less in response to that. Secondly, the retail mix in the Village changed. And now there's a lot of e-commerce; Amazon is a huge supplier of a myriad of goods.

The specific plan makes it really difficult for the most viable, profitable uses to open in the Village. Something like 50K people work in the Village but the specific plan has pretty onerous rules about the number of fast food and fast casual outlets that can open. Westwood could also be a pretty happening place after-work, but hasn't been reposiitoned successfully as an entertainment venue in keeping with the preferences for today's workers. There is actually a sign inside Barney's that says if your feet are itchy, get outside. This is because dance floors require a police permit, which is expensive and challenging to obtain.

In closing, you are probably right in part - UCLA's roads are engineered to maximize throughput (of people, cars and bikes). I don't know if I completely agree with you that the on-campus retail is wholly responsible for Westwood's economic decline. My research on the topic suggests the narrative is far more complicated.

by sirinyamatute
about 1 year ago | Reply

i have a different theory for westwood's decline. Back in the day there used to be 15-20 movie screens in westwood village. They were literally all over the place and took up a big chunk of the land in the village. It was a huge draw for people to come to westwood. Back then there werent very many of the big, luxurious multi-plexes like you see today in century city and westside pavillion with alot of free parking. As soon as century city renovated and built its new AMC theaters, followed shortly after by Westside Pavillion's renovation and the addition of the Lanmark there, the village movie theaters just could not compete, and most went out of business within a short period of time. this created an enormous amount of vacancy at the exact same time. Furthermore, because movie theaters are very very difficult and costly to convert, most have remained in a vacant limbo for some time. The spillover effects where huge, as those theaters were a big big draw for the retailers in the neighborhood.

Personally I think westwood needs a hotel and a hostel to bring tourists into the area, a bike share program that makes it easier for UCLA kids to make the trip into westwood for a quick bike, dedicated bus lanes on westwood, fewer restrictions on alcohol establismenths, and some restoration of the historic buildings if it will ever thrive again . As far as the hammer goes, it would have helped tremendously if it felt more accessible to the street and therefore more inviting to passerbys

by jnemani
about 1 year ago | Reply

That's a really good point, Jnemani. Back in the day when I was a student @USC, we had a tram that would take students, for free, to various cool SoCal landmark spots- the Original Tommy's in LA's Rampart area, etc. But it also took us to Westwood Village. I found it odd that a service at USC would take us to UCLA territory but at the time, there just weren't that many great theaters around. The theater at 32nd Street Shopping Plaza was old & didn't always have the newest movies so we'd all head to Westwood for the movie bonanza. This was before the Magic Johnson Theater got built in the Leimert Park area which was super close- once that got built, I never went back to Westwood Village.

Congrats to the Hammer Museum on winning one of the grants. Though, to be perfectly honest, I don't see why Westwood would need so much help (the neighborhood declined?). I mean, it's not a disenfranchised community, after all.

by techivist
about 1 year ago

1. The woman in the film riding a bicycle was NOT wearing a helmut. Bad example and against the law.

2. For Westwood to be functional and not on the continued path of going towards deserted town because of gridlock, bus only lanes on Westwood Blvd. are needed.From UCLA to Pico the east side of Westwood Blvd. for the morning gridlock, and the west side of the street for the evening gridlock.

by takebus
over 1 year ago | Reply

Whether a grown person is setting a bad example by not wearing a helmet is subjective. Personally I agree with you that it sets a "bad example" - the helmet, I've come to decide, signals something to motorists, like you're not a scofflaw and deserve to have your right to the road honored.

However, I have a correction: people under 18 are required to wear helmets when riding a bike, skateboarding and so forth - see here: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21212.htm. People over 18 are not in violation of any laws if they choose not to wear a helmet.

by sirinyamatute
about 1 year ago | Reply

This is fantastic! Where arts and culture flourish so too does business. It's a proven fact! Bravo and congratulations on your award!
Kate McCallum, Founder c3: Center for Conscious Creativity

by katemccallumc3
about 1 year ago | Reply

This is such an exciting project. I was just in Westwood last night and thought that has lost the luster of time past. Would love to be involved.

by annbridges
about 1 year ago | Reply

Hooray, innovation that makes sense! Go for it!

by Maileen
over 1 year ago | Reply

great

by piixy
over 1 year ago | Reply

I hope you are the winners as we need Westwood and other neighborhoods to become more tuned into the arts and the needs of people to have vibrant marketplaces for all sorts of cultural institutions. Thank you and good luck. Leatrice L. Cohen

by leatrice
over 1 year ago | Reply

Your plan sounds really practical a well as a great opportunity to advance art and understanding, and recapture the communities now lacking in artistic energy, among other things. good luck. Leatrice L.Cohen

by leatrice
over 1 year ago | Reply

Apologies for the redundant use of the word wonderful, it was just excitement that something good will finally happen that led me to the overuse of this adjective.

by Gloria Stokol
over 1 year ago | Reply

It would be wonderful that this wonderful proposal becomes a reality ! Westwood Village deserves better than a bunch of empty businesses. Let it happen and we, the Westwood residents will be proud, once again, of our village.

by Gloria Stokol
over 1 year ago | Reply

SIGN ME UP TO HELP MAKE THIS HAPPEN AND FAST!!!!!

by Liviandme46@gmail.com
over 1 year ago | Reply

Excellent idea. I wish you every success.
DMG

by donnagottlieb@sbcglobal.net
over 1 year ago | Reply

I love this idea! I live in Westwood and chose this neighborhood because I wanted to be near the Hammer, UCLA and a community that didn

by ilananaomi
over 1 year ago | Reply

Well, first of all I am a foreign Visual artist, that knows good English, but can`t by now make a speech. I am willing to go there probably May or other month, show how we manage with little, and try hard, to overcome dificulties and sorrows. Helping each other and make art out with little. I hope to be welcomed.

Myriam

by Myriam Cuneo
over 1 year ago | Reply

This is a brilliant idea! When I was growing up there in the 60s-70s, the Village was a very different place - a vibrant cultural hub truffled with wonderful independent book shops, open air arts and crafts markets, the UNICEF shop where I volunteered during high school, little galleries, boutiques, cafes etc. The streets were lively day and night, in the good sense. I married abroad and on my return after 25 years, I found Westwood had become a sad, half-empty desert. Five gold stars to your revitalization project! May it be the first of many.

by rarebird
over 1 year ago | Reply

I

by Hermanseco
over 1 year ago | Reply

Pink-ribbon-award-box-icon
Award_topvotedidea
$1,000,000 in total grants
Circle-1-inactive Step1-title-submission-inactive

Submission Began
Tuesday, February 26

Submission Ended
Thursday, March 28
at 12:00 PM PDT

Circle-2-inactive Step2-title-voting-inactive

Voting Began
Tuesday, April 02

Voting Ended
Wednesday, April 17
at 12:00 PM PDT

Circle-3 Step3-title
Homeboy Industries: Hope Has An Address
Homeboy Industries: Hope Has An Address

Winner Announced
Wednesday, May 08

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