While award season kicks off this time of year with the Golden Globes, Academy Awards and red-carpet glamour, it’s only fitting the city of San Pedro will soon celebrate several of its own milestone moments in entertainment history.
The Grand Vision Foundation (GVF), a nonprofit committed to bringing the arts, film and theatre to the Los Angeles Harbor and South Bay communities, is hosting a special 85th birthday event for the Warner Grand Theatre on Jan. 20, and will enjoy its own 20th anniversary festivities in April.
GVF was founded in 1996 to save the Warner Grand Theatre, a 1500-seat movie palace, and has since contributed over $4 million to support the Theatre. Owned by the City of Los Angeles, the Warner Grand hosts numerous cultural events annually that are promoted by GVF.
“Grand Vision started its quest 20 years ago to rebuild and restore the Warner Grand Theatre so it could return to the center of community life,” said Liz Johnson, executive director of GVF. “That first decade of focus was to make the Theatre work, but we’ve since been able to create a venue where quality presenters can put on shows, the community can enjoy the arts, and our youth can learn and be inspired by local musicians, actors and artists.
“We’ve made downtown San Pedro a place where people can go for the performing arts,” says Johnson. “And we recognize the power local arts can have to bridge cultural boundaries and unite our community.”
To commemorate the 85th birthday of the Theatre, the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and GVF will show “The Brothers Warner,” a film delving into the story of the four Warner Bros. who rose from nothing to create one of the top studios in America. The public is welcome to attend and purchase tickets online.
Later, in April, GVF will again pay tribute to the Theatre, as well as celebrate its vibrant volunteers and the community who have shaped the past 20 years of GVF’s existence at its annual gala. Guests are invited to come dressed as their favorite movie stars from the 1920s to the 1980s and walk the red carpet.
“It’s a special year for us,” said Johnson. “But we are always looking toward the future, and over the past few years, we’ve been very committed to education, ensuring our youth are introduced to music and the arts.”
In addition to the many shows GVF supports at both the Warner Grand Theatre and its smaller venue, the Grand Annex, it has taught more than 9,000 local children through the help of standards-based instruction and participatory live music experiences.
In 2009, GVF created its Meet the Music (MTM) education program for upper-elementary school youth. Today, local San Pedro and Wilmington fourth-grade students enjoy the semester-long Roots of Music Program (RoMP), attending instructional field trips, learning music fundamentals, how to play the recorder and how to perform together in an ensemble.
“We are looking forward to our annual LA Opera performance on Jan. 27,” said Joselyn Wilkinson, director of education for Grand Vision. “The Warner Grand fills with an electric energy as 1,500 students and teachers enjoy the spectacular artistry and humor of LA Opera performers, many of them for the first time.”
This year’s performance will be “The Prospector,” based on Puccini’s “The Girl of the Golden West.”
“One of the best parts is the Q &A, when students interact directly with performers who describe being inspired to begin their own musical journeys by programs and events very similar to the ones we present,” said Wilkinson.
To learn more about GVF, upcoming events at the Theatre and more, visit http://www.grandvision.org/.