It's the theater

Dear Editor:I enjoyed the article on longtime Downey resident, Lawrence Christon, and am in sympathy with his feelings about the lack of cultural identity in our city. ("Christon Adds Voice to Cultural Cry in Downey," 12/18/09) That and the letter from Moises Alonso, who believes an art theater in place of the old Avenue might be the center draw to an active downtown, prompt me to write. Once or twice a month, retired friends and I get together for an afternoon movie and lunch or dinner. We head up to the Laemmie Theater on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, which has a wonderful selection of foreign and little-known production company films. As is noted in their literature, they "are not afraid of subtitles!" We enjoy a nice meal at one of Pasadena's many restaurants, sometimes do a little shopping at the Paseo, and never leave without browsing Vroman's bookstore. Why can't we do that in Downey? To borrow from Clinton's motto, "It's the theater, stupid!" - Nancy Krusbe, Downey

Dear Editor: If Lawrence Christon feels so strongly that downtown needs a bookstore (the last bookstore I remember in town was a little hole-in-the-wall opposite where Norm's is now), he should avail himself of the depressed commercial real estate market and lease one of the many vacant storefronts along Downey Avenue, and open a bookstore. Come on Larry, if you feel it's so important, put your money where your mouth is. - Drew Kelley, Downey

Dear Editor: Many thanks to Moises Alonso and Lawrence Christon for their recent letters urging the citizens of Downey to reclaim the vital role of the arts in our community. I recently moved to Downey this past September, following my spouse, Christie, who was called to be Pastor of the Moravian Church of Downey. I am a singer/songwriter and I enjoy performing in coffee shops, restaurants and other venues. Unfortunately, it seems that there aren't many venues to perform original music in Downey. I'm very thankful for the monthly Downey Folk Jam. The folk jam is a great opportunity to hear good music, share songs and collaborate with other musicians. I agree with Alonso that the old Avenue Theatre could be a great space for a thriving hub of creative activity. This is a hopeful vision. The arts contribute a lot of healthy energy for people of all ages and especially for youth. For instance, arts-based after school programs can create an environment for teaching artistic and social skills, building ties between youth and mentors, and equipping students to develop a stronger sense of self-worth. A small choir of voices is forming in favor of re-exploring the arts in Downey. Are there other voices to be heard? - David Melby-Gibbons, Downey

Dear Editor: As a 19-year-old Downey resident, I speak for most of my friends when I say we will never see a foreign-language film at the Avenue. The last movie we saw was "Avatar." (The special effects were great and I recommend it.) We need something fun for young people. And let's be realistic: most teens don't like art or culture. Maybe an arcade, lounge or bowling alley would be a good idea. But it needs to be monitored and kept safe to keep out the bad crowds. To repeat, I will not see a foreign-language film downtown. When I'm at the movies, I don't want to read. - Chris Billups, Downey

Dear Editor: Thank you, Mr. Christon, for bringing a much-needed rational voice to the call for a cultural core to the city of Downey. While I am for the building of low-income housing for the people, to build such housing in the downtown area makes no sense. Is an apartment building the desired icon for the culture of Downey? I think not. Mr. Christon is right when he points out that the Krikorian multiplex is the only attraction in town. The Avenue Theatre and several other empty businesses along Firestone Boulevard would make excellent venues for supper clubs with legitimate theater for stage productions, improv houses, boutique shops, book stores, real coffee houses (not Starbucks) with a true patronage of literati. Brea and Fullerton have all these attractions, and Costa Mesa has a quality performing arts center. Where are the visiting symphonies, the repertory theaters, the performing artists who would revitalize the center of Downey to attract a vibrant patronage of Southern California's cultured class? If you renovate the downtown area to include the kinds of businesses and cultural attractions Mr. Christon and the AAF are calling for, they will come. - Michael J. Parmer, Downey

********** Published: December 25, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 35