Santa Monica’s premier arts center is raising funds in order to continue serving the community. The 18th Street Arts Center will hold their inaugural gala fundraiser event this Thursday, May 9. The event, to be held at La Residence de France in Beverly Hills (the home of the French Consulate General of Los Angeles), celebrates the art center’s 30th anniversary and will look to hit a fundraising goal of $100,000 to support the center and its programs.

The gala will honor current and past 18th Street artists including current artist-in-residence Suzanne Lacy, alumnae Candice Lin and Rita Gonzalez, LACMA’s current head of contemporary art and curator of 18th Street’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition. Additionally, the gala will house a musical performance.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the artists and individuals who have made 18th Street Arts Center what it is today, 30 years after it was first started by a group of groundbreaking feminist artists who understood the value of creative time and space,” Jan Williams, executive director of the 18th Street Arts Center said. “Their vision is more relevant than ever, and we want to expand and grow that philosophy to serve even more artists.”

18th Street Arts Center’s expansion will include the impending management of Santa Monica Airport art studios as well as an upcoming program dubbed Commons Lab: Place and Public Life, a series of events designed to question the role of cultural institutions in an ever-changing United States. Race and gentrification within Santa Monica will be topics covered.

Additional program expansions include Community programs and partnerships, including new programs with the Santa Monica Public Library, affordable housing organization Community Corp of Santa Monica, and educational arts workshops with Brentwood Arts Center.

Donors for the event will hail from across the world but the musical artist for the event is a homegrown talent.

Leven Kali and his band the Moon will play at the event. Williams says Kali, a Santa Monica native, is quite literally a child of the Arts Center; his parents, both artist/musicians, were in residence at 18th Street Arts Center when Kali was born. He was essentially raised at the Arts Center and across the street at Crossroads school.

“It’s always been right there for me, whether I’m home or gone,” Kali said about the Arts Center.

Since his 18th Street upbringing and Crossroads education, Kali has collaborated with the likes of Drake, Playboi Carti and Syd from The Internet. At the moment, a billboard of his face is erected right outside of Staples Center. He says coming back to the center to perform is an act of love and giving back, just like the gala fundraiser.

“If you wanna change the world, you have to start with your community,” Kali said. “It’s perfect for practicing serving the community within your community. [18th Street Arts Center] is something I love and [the gala] is a cause I believe in. Expect good energy.”

Tickets for the gala start at $500.  Email if interested.

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