A large neighborhood movie palace, this 1931 Spanish-style art-Deco wonder has retained its importance to the community for over 80 years since it first opened as the Leimert Theatre in 1931. It became a neighborhood movie theater soon after opening and was operated by Fox West Coast Theaters. Designed in a classic southern California streamlined Spanish Colonial style, the tall steel frame on top of the lower stucco clad tower originally had the theater’s name on it, and is a landmark for the area.
Actress Marla Gibbs purchased the theater in 1990, and renamed it the Vision Theatre. The theater fell on hard times after the 1992 uprising and the economic recession which hit this area of Los Angeles. The bank foreclosed on the property in 1997 and the City took it over. The theater was later converted into a performing arts center and participated each year in the Pan African Film Festival.
The Vision Theatre completed a $11 million renovation in 2011 and final construction on phases II, III and IV began October 2015 to reconfigure seating within the existing walls, add a lounge area under the seating, enlarge the stage, add a fly loft with office spaces, and build lower level dressing rooms, green rooms, trap room, technical staff office space, and orchestra pit.
The goals of the Vision Theatre is to provide a performing arts venue for professional performing arts presentations and productions; a training center for diverse cultural talent reflective of the surrounding Leimert Park and Baldwin Hills community; to produce and present diverse world class theater, music, and dance concert productions, along with offering a variety of cultural forums; and to serve as a center for community meetings.
Vision Theatre in the News
Voices of the Rebellion 30th Anniversary Reflections featured LA This Week.
Commissioned by DCA and produced by DCA’s Leimert Park Cultural Hub, Voices of the Rebellion: 30th Anniversary Reflections takes place in front of the installation of Hank Willis Thomas’s All Power to All People artwork with artists Peter J. Harris presenting VoiceMusic in the 5th Street Sky, (spoken word, vocals, and bass); Gary Jones presenting Blackstreet USA Puppet Theatre, a project about the effects of the1992 civil unrest; Clayton Lawrence presenting Snooze, an original poem highlighting the uprising experience; Penelope Lowder presenting a short 3-person play, She Shot Me; LaRita Shelby presenting a short 3 person play, Out There; and Conney D. Williams, presenting a poem orange juice and other crazy **** that happens to black people. The program will also feature singer-songwriter Radha Botofasina. The selection panel for the six commissioned artists included Akuyoe Graham, Ben Guillory, and Rhonda Mitchell. LA This Week is Channel 35’s Emmy award-winning weekly news program that highlights the week’s events in City government and throughout Los Angeles.
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Yvonne Farrow, Vision Theatre Project Manager, joins Camille Delaney-McNeill, Director of the Beckman Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles on the podcast ‘Coffee Conversations with Greg J.’ to discuss the creative economy and its essential value to communities.
The Vision Theatre Prepares for Its Comeback on LA This Week, Channel 35’s weekly news program