A new art facility specifically dedicated to young people and named in honor of Charles Mingus will be inaugurated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) on Saturday, Sept. 27 at 1:30 p.m. Program activities will begin with the grand opening of the Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center (CMYAC), located in the Watts Community. Performances and exhibitions will follow over the next nine months, and have been conceived as a “Musical Caravan” extending the celebration of the facility’s opening at various other DCA venues.
In October 2007, the DCA applied for a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) American Masterpieces Presenting Grant, a highly competitive category designed to present works widely considered “American Masterpieces.” DCA was awarded a grant, the second largest award made nationally in this round of NEA American Masterpieces grants, to produce “The Charles Mingus – Son of Watts – Musical Caravan,” which celebrates the life and music of jazz artist Charles Mingus (1922-1979), a highly influential bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader, and composer who resided in the Watts district of Los Angeles.
The grand opening features “A Tribute to Charles Mingus: Past, Present, and Future,” with world renowned musicians. Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Councilmember Janice Hahn, Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Olga Garay, and Sue Mingus, and other family members will participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event will be part of the Annual 27th Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival and the 32nd Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival (Sept. 27- 28).
In addition to the Watts Towers Drum and Jazz Festivals, there will be three major Jazz concerts focusing on the music of Charles Mingus. Two concerts, one at the Madrid Theater in the San Fernando Valley, and the other at the Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro in the southern tip of the city, will feature the music of the Charles Mingus Big Band. The final concert is envisioned as a gala tribute and will take place at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. It will feature LA-based, nationally recognized musicians who played with, or were deeply influenced by Mingus.
General ticket prices for the concerts are $25 and $15 for senior citizens and students with ID. Tickets for the Warner Grand Theater may be purchased online at www.itsmyseat.org or www.warnergrand.org. Tickets for the Madrid Theater concert are available for purchase at (818) 347-9419. Tickets for the concerts may also be purchase at the Theater Box Offices, up to one hour prior to each performance.
The Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center a facility of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs is located at 10624 S. Graham Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90002. Admission to the Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center grand opening and Watts Towers Festivals is free. For general information, the public may call (213) 847-4646.