Community celebrates East Village Arts Park’s grand reopening, now a more accessible space

It’s now much easier for the community to use the East Village Arts Park.

Peering through the often locked gates, the narrow stretch nestled inconspicuously between two buildings seemed more like a glorified alley than an actual park, but with its grand reopening on Tuesday evening and new partnerships making it more accessible, that’s all set to change.

“[…]It’s essentially been closed on and off for the last 10 years and it’s taken a lot of time and effort to pull together a team that’s committed to making sure this park is open on a weekly basis, so the youth can come here, so artists can come here[…],” said District 2 Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce during the reopening.

Before the Arts Council for Long Beach, the city’s parks and rec department and the Downtown Long Beach Alliance partnered to make the arts park more accessible, potential users had to go through the city to obtain a permit, a process not everyone could afford.

Now anyone who wants to hold an event can go through the arts council, which will be in charge of the programming along with the East Village Association. The DLBA will be tasked with maintaining the park, opening, closing and cleaning it.

Pearce, whose office has worked for the last two years to create a team committed to activating the park, said the effort is part of the city’s plan to open parks and ensure they’re accessible to everybody.

Those who want to use the park can go through the arts council, which will check to make sure the park isn’t already rented out by parks and rec on the requested date. The arts council will consult the applicant on their idea for the event, and from there it’s a matter of adding it to the arts council’s calendar as well as the arts park’s page, said arts council Executive Director Griselda Suarez.

“[…]We’re just excited that we can do programming here now,” Suarez said. “And I love that we dedicate the space to musicians, and they can just share their music on Second Saturdays, they can share their music any day of the week, really, that doesn’t involve any red tape[…]”

The grand reopening was also used as an opportunity to gather feedback from attendees on the future of the space.

President of the East Village Association, Joe Harding, said they’ve already started tossing around ideas for programming, which include starting a community garden, offering cooking classes and making the space a Monarch Waystation, offering monarch butterflies the plants and environment necessary to sustain their migration.

Other ideas include using the space for fashion shows, that small clothing stores might want to organize, hosting food trucks on Mondays during lunch hours, featuring performance artists and more.

The East Village Arts Park is located at 150 Elm Ave.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.