Leimert Park's World Stage In Danger of Closing
His non-profit performance space and workshop the World Stage opened in 1989 and, along with the Vision Theater, quickly became the centerpiece of the Leimert Park arts scene.
But now, 12 years since Higgins' passing of kidney and liver failure, a new landlord has caused a lot of uncertainty, not just for the future of the venue but the identity of the neighborhood.
Higgins opened the World Stage with poet Kamau Daaood, offering writer workshops, jam sessions and poetry nights to the community for little charge. Artists of all disciplines showed up in droves, opening galleries and other cultural meeting spots like Fifth Street Dicks and Babe & Ricky's Inn.
It all helped turn the neighborhood around 43rd Place and Crenshaw Boulevard into what director John Singleton referred to as a "Black Greenwich Village."
Last May, the approval of a Leimert Park metro station for the incoming Crenshaw/LAX line seemed to be further cause for optimism. It took two years of fighting to get the approval for the $40 million investment, but soon afterwards World Stage's owners and their neighbors learned that the building had been sold.
Vocalist Dwight Trible performs regularly at World Stage and is also on its board. He's worried about what's ahead.
"From the cleaners on 43rd to across the park, everybody has been evicted," he says. "The building that the World Stage is in has at least four empty spaces."
He adds that the venue has been moved to a month-to-month lease, and that no one seems quite sure who actually owns the buildings now.
The Weekly couldn't figure it out either; the building is owned by an LLC, Mascot MBA, but the only contact listed on property records is lawyer Richard Teitel, who refuses to reveal the owner's name, and says he no longer represents them. The building's management company, Clint Lukens Realty, was similarly unhelpful in determining the owner or any future plans for the property.