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Patch Blog: All the World Is Not a World Class Performance Space

Fiesta Hall is a local and wonderful historic space for small-sized musical and theatrical events, meetings and even dances—not so much a "world class" space.

Down the aisle they came, exercising their right to speak out. And where have they been until now?  

Men and women, said to be from the Metropolitan Master Chorale. Metropolitan Chorale? Four people who are, all together, the same night, and new to the cause, in favor of turning Fiesta Hall into a "world class performance space" - right here in River City.  

I will not name them, because I am not sure of their names and don't want to make a mistake. Someone will though, and I am sure there will be comments on the subject. I was told that only one is an actual resident of West Hollywood.

Fiesta Hall is not meant and never was meant to be a "world class" performance space. Even the term is silly. Let me list what are considered to be world class performance spaces:

Vienna State Opera

Vienna Musikverein

Metropolitan NYC

Boston Symphony

Sydney Opera House

Vienna Konzerthaus

The Disney

Avery Fisher Hall NYC

Hungarian State Budapest

Carnegie Hall

The Royal Albert

(not a complete list)

Our lovely Fiesta Hall is not in this class, and no matter what is done to it, it never will be. When it was first built it was a wonderful stage for small choirs, musical performances, plays, dances and especially meetings. It had proper lighting and adequate acoustics for its time.  

It also has a ceiling, hand painted, with scenes of California life - farmers and animals and churches and men, women and children. The ceiling is not the Sistine Chapel, but it is part of what makes Fiesta Hall festive. The hall is also a proposed historic landmark within a historic landmark - Plummer Park itself is California Historic Landmark #160.

While some of the people who support destroying its interior to create a "world class" space may indeed aspire to performing at one - Fiesta Hall will never be it. It is too small.

Notice, if you will, the size of the above mentioned locations. They rely on space to enable acoustical engineering. As it so happens, a very long-time friend, who lights the Boston Symphony Hall for WGBH TV, tells me the BSH used scientifically derived acoustical engineering to make it one of the world great musical venues. This is first hand information.

On a more practical note, Fiesta Hall sits not only in the park, but cheek by jowl with residential housing on a very narrow street that abuts the park on the west side. Numerous problems arise from that proximity on many levels. I think we all know what they might be. The hall was not designed for Der Ring des Nibelungen or Swan Lake.

Coincidentally, the old Post Office Building in Beverly Hills has been funded by Wallis Annenberg to create a serious performance space for the general area. It is very well located in a business area of the city and the interior has been redesigned to enable more ambitious performances to take place there.

It seems to me that an architect with both a knowledge of acoustics and historic buildings could recreate in Fiesta Hall a wonderful, community stage and venue for less elaborate performances that would draw appreciative audiences nonetheless.

Inventing a specious argument to get what you want is a very expedient and common political practice. Producing eleventh hour shills to do it is very self-serving, disingenuous and disregards the park's existence as a green space for anyone who cares to use it. 

The entire point of protecting Plummer Park is inclusionary, not exclusionary. Including buildings, trees, tennis courts, playgrounds (on the ground) pre-school, two existing parking lots, dogs and humans of all backgrounds from the very young to the very old.

This is a neighborhood community hall, a neighborhood park in a residential neighborhood. I wonder why that simple idea is so hard to grasp?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sheila Lightfoot February 11, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Chloe, This is excellent. You did a wonderful job of putting Plummer Park and other projects bragged about as “world class” or “first ever” into the proper perspective re: the needs and desires of our small community. I’d compare it to homeowners who want to turn their home in a lovely middle class neighborhood into a huge “world class” modern mini mansion. Not only will their home become a grotesque example of egotistical excess, but the beauty of the entire well-kept middle class neighborhood will also be lost.
Chloe Ross February 11, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Thank you Sheila
Ali February 12, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Well said Chloe.
Chloe Ross February 12, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Thank you Ali
Lynn Russell February 12, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Instead of WH perpetually striving for and bragging about being world class award winning this and that....perhaps it could use a world class amount of humility which is exactly what Fiesta Hall and Long Hall/great Hall represent. Of course humility is often the last stop on the journey to enlightenment. Pompous heads and ego driven back patters generally havev to be on their knees to get a ticket there.
me February 12, 2012 at 06:56 PM
city council needs a "class" in listening to its citizens and giving us what we need/want.....heilman's desire is to compete with beverly hills some day.....yes, let's knock down quaint neighborhoods, and build mc mansion, condo skyscrapers and level parks to build the heilman opera house.....what a bunch of clowns!!!...their plans for the much UNanticipated automated parking garage behind city hall for their STAFF (who already have a parking structure a block away) is a complete joke and will for sure be an expensive techinical nightmare.....i shall be the very first to say, "i told them so"
Chloe Ross February 12, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Thank you Lynn and me. Overweening and ostentatious are two of the O (as in OMG) words that come to mind. Driven to complete honesty - I too would like a valet to park my car in my East WeHo digs; perhaps a street named after me and a gong from the Queen. Alas - as a private citizen in a diminished tax bracket, no longer in the UK - I can only dream. Public servants however seem to presume that such perks are their droit des seigneurs. Let THEM eat cake.
joninla February 12, 2012 at 11:44 PM
to "ME" you commt, I get, is somewhat a comical commentar with a strong dose of actual need for training. Seriously, I just read that the one class that is mandatory for anyone on a commttee/commission (an apontee not a volunteer citizen) is a weekend seinar several time a year on how to use their board position while avoiding any accidental violation of the Brown Act. That Brown Act the council uses as an excuse is actually a citizens protection and freedom of infrmation addition that is necessary to stop evey small city to get away with the same stuff. There is a mandatory class because the city is actually scared if triggering any violation of the Brown act, because it might trigger a small investigation over nothing important, but once that happens, the law and inquiry will expose evey violatuon of hiding information and then take what they find and if improper or illegal, they can and must prosecute. Also, if they viokate any part of the Brown act, if nobody is familar with the Brown Act, it will not get reported. I suggest everyone get familair with the brown act and pay attention and we may find that opening. There are 'how to manuals' written for the average person to use so the Brown Act can do what is was intended. Protect people from local goverments from exploiting people
Shawn Thompson February 13, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Tell it like it is Chloe! Love this great summary of the core of the protect plummer park focus. I personally think the ceiling is valuable and "art" along with the building the way it was built. "World Class" = spin in my book.
Chloe Ross February 13, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Yes, I believe the Brown Act has been misread and misused and we need to have another look at it. I intend to do so.
Rudy Garza February 15, 2012 at 07:14 AM
The Ciy Council will be avaluating City Mgr., Paul Arevalo's performance during a Closed Session of City Council this Thursday, February 16, 2012, 6:30pm at City Hall. Here is the link for the agenda. http://weho.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=9944 There will be a Public Comment prior to their private discussion. Please people, keep it civil, but let the City Council know how you feel that the highest paid employee, over $300,000 (higher than the same job in LA wih millions of residents) We need a City Manager who will tell us the truth at all times and take our input and USE it in future planning of our parks, our facilities and our neighborhoods.

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