A message from a friend of the Towers:

Dear friends,

The fiscal crisis in the government of the City of Los Angeles has led its Department of Cultural Affairs to ignore its fundamental mission.  It is directing its available funds away from its community arts centers, ending years of educational classes and programming vital to the communities it serves.  Most of the arts centers will be forced to shut down.  Those remaining open will not be able to maintain their arts classes.

As of Friday, March 26, the employment of the educational coordinator of the Watts Towers Arts Center will be terminated.  Eight on-going educational programs that serve over 6,000 individuals—many of whom are at-risk youth—will be forced to close down.  This will effectively dismantle the functioning of a community cultural gathering place and a vital host to the world renowned Watts Towers .

The local City Council representative has cynically called for the privatization of the Watts Towers Arts Center while she is actively working with the Wasserman Media Group and the Tony Hawk Foundation to develop funding for a Skateboard Park to be built immediately adjacent to the Watts Towers themselves.  This construction would deprive visitors of a full view of Rodia’s monumental work of architectural sculpture and destroy the aesthetic ambience of a National Historical Landmark.  This is like building a skateboard park on the steps below the Lincoln Memorial or at the entrance of the Statue of Liberty .  Requests for this Skateboard Park to be placed farther away from the Watts Towers have been ignored.

Please help us save the Watts Towers , the Watts Towers Arts Center and the arts of Los Angeles .

WRITE and CALL these public officials in support of the continuing integrity of the Watts Towers and its Arts Center :

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Los Angeles City Hall

200 N. Spring Street, Rm 303

Los Angeles , CA 90012

(213) 978-0600

mayor@lacity.org

Councilwoman Janice Hahn, District 15

Los Angeles City Hall

200 N. Spring Street, Rm 435

Los Angeles , CA 90012

(213)-473-7015

councilmember.hahn@lacity.org

Olga Garay, General Manager

Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA)

City of Los Angeles

201 N. Figueroa Street, Ste 1400

Los Angeles , CA 90012

(213) 202-5500

Olga.Garay@lacity.org

ALSO please click onto this site to sign a petition in support of the Watts Towers Arts Center :

www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stopculturalgenocide

AND click on to this site to help support all of the affected Cultural Affairs arts sites:

http://www.artsforla.org/take_action/culturalcenters

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“You gotta do something they never got’ em in the world.” Simon Rodia (1875-1965,) top right.

I have chills all over every time I look at this picture of Simon Rodia because it is an undeniable testament to the enormity of Rodia’s achievement: the Towers he single-handedly built on his residential lot in Watts over 33 years every evening after working a construction job and every Sunday, without nails, rivets, bolts, gloves, drill, blueprint, diplomas. I also love this close-up because it shows that Simon did it with immense pride and joy.

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Click here for the full review on www.lataco.com.

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Edward Landler & Brad Byer, makers of the documentary “I Build The Tower” about Simon Rodia and the Watts Towers of Watts, Los Angeles. Photo by Gail Brown.

TACO: It took Simon Rodia 33 years to build the Watts Towers. You’ve been working on “I Build the Tower” for at least fifteen years, what has taken you so long?

Edward Landler: Los Angeles still doesn’t know how to appreciate the Watts Towers. One problem with viewing the Watts Towers as a work of art is that the man who built them didn’t have a pedigree. I think it’s one of the greatest works of art of the 20th century but we live in a city and a culture dominated by an industry that is mainly concerned with the bottom line: how much money did you make? Sam Rodia, the man who built the Towers, didn’t come from a school or studio, he was just a guy. How’s it going to make money? Who’s going to buy them?

The problem with getting the proper respect from the city is the Towers are in the wrong part of town. People don’t want to go there. They’re afraid. But they’re afraid of a myth. There are plenty of other areas of town which are just as dangerous as Watts but Watts has the history and aura of violence and gangs. There are parts of the valley with higher incomes and similar problems.

Click here for the full interview on www.lataco.com.