North Hollywood Arts District on verge of extinction due to coronavirus, community shutdown

The once thriving NoHo Arts District is facing the final curtain after the coronavirus shelter-at-home mandate shuttered more than a dozen theaters and surrounding businesses.
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, performing arts communities all over Southern California are hoping their curtain calls aren't over. Case in point: The NoHo Arts District, where there's a campaign going on to save the theaters that helped create the neighborhood.

Back in the '90s, some small theaters moved into a North Hollywood neighborhood in need of some change for the better. And that's just what happened. Then restaurants, bars and other businesses followed. The NoHo Arts District has 22 theaters, and 18 of them need help staying alive.

"If you've been on stage, if you've sat in an audience of a play, you know how important it is," said Ronnie Marmo, co-founder of Theater 68. "So we're going to fight like heck to keep this going. And I hope we can, George!"

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Small businesses everywhere have had to scramble to find ways to stay afloat during the pandemic. Bebu Music, a husband and wife run children's music and entertainment company in Los Angeles, decided to take their classes online.


Marmo is also an actor who performs at the venue, which is devoted to the theater community here and to the surrounding businesses.

"We're a partnership so I get really nervous that if you take the theaters out of the NoHo District, there's no longer an arts district. It's just NoHo," said Marmo.

So in an attempt to help save the theaters, The NoHo Arts District set up a GoFundMe page. If it can raise about $108,000, all 18 theaters will have their rent paid for two months.

"We're here for the long run and we're going to do our best to make sure that these theaters are here two months, four months, six months from now," said Nancy Bianconi, president of NoHoArtsDistrict.com.

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When food and beverage workers Ramzi Budayr and Tyler Curtis suddenly found themselves without a job amid the coronavirus pandemic, they decided to use their free time, knowledge and connections to help out those most in need.


The NoHo Arts District is also where performers go to learn. Bianconi says theaters here were once able to offer up to 35 different acting classes on any given night. For now, that is gone. And for the owner of one NoHo Theatre, that's a shame.

"It really is the incubator for the arts in L.A.," said Rick Shaw of the Secret Rose Theatre. "We are where young creatives get to star... writers, actors, directors, dancers, comedians, filmmakers. We're there they get to do what they do. We're also the home for older artists who don't work in TV anymore."

'We have 22 theaters in one square mile and that's the second largest concentration of theaters in the country behind New York," said Marmo.

If you have theaters in your community, they may need your help. To help this community, head to gofundme.com/savenohotheatres.
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