September 11, 2014
Important win for Bergamot Arts Center
This past Tuesday, our wonderful Bergamot Art Center's future was before the Santa Monica City Council. We are very pleased to report that the Council recognized the central role of the art galleries at Bergamot, strongly affirmed that the unique, eclectic look and feel of Bergamot must be retained and preserved, and took the first steps to set in place a process to ensure that the galleries and the community are integral in determining any changes that will be made.
Against staff's recommendation, the Worthe group was chosen to work with the community to develop a phased plan for Bergamot that would first solve the serious parking problem without driving out the galleries—a plan that will only succeed if what comes out of this process garners community and gallery support.
This was due in large part to the passionate advocacy of a strong, united community of gallery owners, neighborhood groups and SMCLC, who turned out in substantial numbers. Importantly, the Council did not approve the "preferred concepts" proposed by the City's staff. These so-called "guiding principles" called for too much new development, denigrated the anchor role of art galleries and envisioned instead a cultural, retail and office mall. Councilmembers (with Pam O'Connor absent), agreed with us that the entire process needed to be restarted.
As gallerist Bill Turner has said, Bergamot is a "special, odd, unlikely and wonderful place we all love and want to nurture through this next phase." Council agreed. Obviously, much work remains and continued vigilance is required. But, it was a very good night for Santa Monica residents and all those concerned about over-development and who love art and preservation.
Victor, Diana (who is an artist represented at Bergamot), Sherrill, Jeff
News / Reporting