Here is a brief overview of the current “state of the arts” in Downey.
The Downey Theatre first opened its doors in 1970, built to house the success of the Downey Children’s Theatre under the direction of John Hume. While many of the old theatre programs shut down in 1978, the theatre continues to present the community with shows from the Downey Civic Light Opera, the Downey Symphony, and other local cultural and dance companies. Under new management in 2011, the Downey Theatre began to once again host larger acts as a performing arts venue, presenting concerts and shows of nationally known artists. Visit them at www.downeytheatre.org.
Downey Symphony Orchestra
For over 50 years Downey has been home to its own professional orchestra. They present four concerts per year: three at the Downey Civic Theatre, and one at Furman Park as part of the summer concert series. Visit them at www.downeysymphony.org.
Downey Civic Light Opera
Beginning in 1973, the Downey Theatre Guild produced its first musical, giving birth to the Downey Civic Light Opera, which is still in operation today. They produce three classic musicals a year, with 10 performances each. For the last decade has been under the direction of Marsha Moode. Visit them at www.downeyciviclightopera.org.
Downey Museum of Art
The first contemporary art museum in LA County was right here in Downey. The Downey Museum of Art presented works from Southern California’s best post-war artists, including Boris Deutsch and Donna Schuster. The Museum closed its doors in 2009 over some legal trouble, but has an active board of directors with a plan to re-open the museum within the year. George Redfox, president, leads a board that includes Barbara Beard, George Manzanilla, Alex Saab, Harold Tseklenis, Don Lamkin and others. Soon to be live again at www.downeymoa.org.
Downey Art Vibe
Since 2007 a young group of artists began producing local art shows in Downey, with a larger vision of a new cultural renaissance in the city led by a revival of the Arts. Notably they’ve produced three large shows recently, including the gallery at the Taste of Downey event, the “Ambivalence” and “Suburban Renaissance” shows in the Downey Theatre lobby, each attracting over 600 guests. Visit them at www.downeyartvibe.org.
Debuted in the fall of 2012, Stay Gallery is operated by Downey Art Vibe and supported by the Arts in Public Places program of the City of Downey. Not simply an art gallery, but a center for arts and culture in downtown Downey, featuring local artists, musicians, performers and more. 11140 Downey Ave. www.stay-gallery.com
Downey Arts Coalition
Since 2011 a new community advocacy group for artists and arts enthusiasts began meeting monthly, with the purpose of bringing people together with a common vision to enhance the arts scene in Downey. The group is open to anyone, and meets monthly on the fourth Saturday of the month at the Downey Theatre green room. DAC members have began a number of successful new arts events and initiatives, with more added all the time. Andrew Wahlquist leads the group, with leadership from Don Lamkin, Pat Gil, Carolina Del Toro and others. That’s where you currently are, at www.downeyarts.org.
Downey Art League
Artist demonstrations every other month on the 4th Tuesday. Downey Art League has been bringing local artists together since 1958. In 2012 they combined with the Downey Arts Coalition to work together, so stay tuned to this site for future news and events.
Third Thursdays Poetry
A monthly poetry night in Downey on the third Thursday of the month that began in November 2011. The night features an open mic at 8PM, followed by a featured poet from the So Cal poetry scene. Curated by Lorine Parks. Currently hosted at the Rives Mansion. Visit the Poetry page.
Hair Club for Poets
Also known as “Reading with Scissors,” this monthly poetry night began in January 2011 at Number 34 Barbershop and takes place on the fourth Saturday of the month. Visit them on their facebook group.
Writers Workshop West
For over 50 years Writer’s Workshop West has supported the creative writing community in Downey and the Gateway cities. Every third Tuesday of the month at Downey High School’s library.
Moravian Trombone Choir
Founded in 1965 by Jeff Reynolds, then the bass trombonist for the LA Philharmonic, the Downey Moravian Trombone Choir has the unique sound of a chorus of trombonists playing from their unique repertory gathered through the decades. The perform a spring and winter concert at the Downey Moravian Church. www.moraviantrombonechoir.org
Downey & Warren High School
Our high schools are home to vibrant programs in the visual arts, music and theatre. [links to come]