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Community Rallies to Keep Brentwood Art Center Open

Teachers, parents with children and other concerned parties have agreed to form a non-profit organization to enter into a new lease and look for adequate funding to try to re-open this fall.

Chances to keep the open at its Montana Avenue space increased this week as supporters pledged to operate the school as a non-profit organization, but continued commitment remains.

The school's attorney, Don Burris, told the Brentwood Community Council Tuesday night that teachers, parents of students and community leaders rallied on Sunday, Sept. 2 to get it re-opened under a new structure, and operate as the Friends of the Brentwood Art Center. Burris said the school's distribution email to about 18,000 people announcing its closure returned approximately 417 emails from concerned people asking how they could help.

"There’s been so many people educated in the art center," he said, noting they would like to get the doors open around Sept. 17. "One that really got to me was from a kid, 9 years old, who asked me when he could schedule a bake sale."

As creativity fourished at the corner 26th and Montana for 41 years, the from the school's president late last month that the art center would have to close its doors because of a city zoning variance shocked many. From that, the desire to keep the school open grew at what could have been considered its final last week until the group meeting this Sunday, as well as this letter distributed Tuesday night prior to the community council meeting.

Burris said closing the school and making it a commercial enterprise was "not realistic."

"Zoning has been grandfathered in for the school," he said, calling it a premier art school for Southern California, especially Brentwood, Santa Monica and Westwood. "We're pretty happy and excited about it."

Even though the operator's lease with the school expires in August 2013, the new agreement would allow the Friends to enter into the lease, receive all assets and deposits and operate the school. The Friends group is currently gauging the community's willingness to donate.

Click here to read the Sept. 4 letter for more information on how to get involved.

Burris noted that changing to a community-based, non-profit status increases their chances for broader outreach. He added that one of the "angels" involved in the re-opening effort has to remain nameless, but is "very well known in the film industry."

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