One of the key ingredients to any great art or music scene, talented artists aside, is a central location. A homebase that serves not just as a meeting place but also a safe haven for creative types to share ideas, support one another and, above all, inspire.

 


Wednesday nights at G.A.P. range from mellow acoustic performances
(pictured) to high-energy jam sessions with a packed dance floor.
They are groovy, welcoming and diverse.
Photo: Courtesy of Green Art People

From Charlie’s and Teltron Internet Cafe to Cafe Voltaire, Zoey’s and many others, Ventura has certainly seen special places come and go over the years, all with organically grown vibrant scenes. And for those who spent considerable time in them, they were unique places that fostered a particularly vibrant and productive level of creativity.

Green Art People has sprouted such a scene from a singular and unsuspecting location.

In 2009 Tim Beyer and Lisbet Frey, with the help of friends and volunteers, went about transforming an abandoned space on Ventura Avenue that had been overrun by squatters and drug addicts, into a community arts center with an upcycle art supply store, and space for performance and workshops.

Green Art People was open for around one year before permitting/code enforcement issues left Beyer and Frey continuing to lease the space despite being unable to operate. After another year of hard labor to secure the necessary permitting, Green Art People was officially established as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization with an active board and partnerships with organizations such as AWAKE and the California Arts Council. And that’s when its Wednesday night live music showcase, known as Short Attention Span Theater, started to put Green Art People on the local music map in a big way.

Wednesday is traditionally the slowest night of the week for music, to the point that even active venues tend to take the night off. That’s exactly why Frey, a longtime musician, decided not only to pick that day, but also to start the shows by 7 p.m. Initially the night was just a handful of friends doing short acoustic sets, but in no time it turned into full sets from artists of all genres.

The result has been, hands down, one of the most eclectic and longest-lived nights of original music the city has seen. With more than 250 shows under its belt, the venue has grown to have a larger stage and a fully functioning PA system to accommodate both growing and loyal crowds.

Completely all-ages and free to attend, Short Attention Span Theater has not only been a space for local artists but for multiple touring acts as well. It’s not uncommon for visual artists and painters to be working away with live music playing and audience members twirling on the dance floor. While the musical acts do play for free on Wednesday nights, they appreciate the audience reception so much that most ask to return and many have offered to help in any way they can to keep Green Art People’s doors open — no easy task for a community arts center offering multiple free programs, even with financial support from the city of Ventura and the California Arts Council via grants. Hence the launch of Green Art People Live, a creative new fundraising project to keep Wednesday nights alive and spread the Green Art People scene and sound around the world.

Green Art People has partnered with Patreon.com, an arts-centric alternative to Kickstarter, to offer a tremendous reward/product for a very small contribution, giving its fans a chance to become patrons of the arts — specifically the arts offered by Green Art People — and create a global community in the process.

Using a crack audio/visual crew headed by local producer Jon DeBaun (Mars Volta, Shaky Feelin’), Wednesday night live performances are recorded and made available to subscribers the following week for a minimum donation of only $1 per week/performance.

Green Art People’s patrons (as well as the performing artists) receive exclusive access to fully mixed and mastered live audio streams to enjoy at their leisure. The first of these recordings, a performance by Groove Session, was released last week for free to give potential patrons a preview of what Green Art People Live is all about.

The goal is to meet a weekly minimum that would allow Green Art People to pay the musicians and the recording engineer, and ultimately put money back into operating costs and programs, many of which are for underserved neighborhood youth. Once specific goals are realized, Green Art People can move beyond audio recordings to full videos of the shows, interviews with artists and more.

What Frey and project coordinator Steve DeBaun are hoping for — beyond raising much-needed funds for the arts space — is to bring awareness to Green Art People’s music scene to music lovers outside Ventura County.

“We’ve always felt we have something really special here,” says Frey. “It’s a more relaxed environment than the average venue, and artists have permission to experiment, which creates some amazing moments.”

“It’s magic,” adds DeBaun. “We have the kind of performances that we think would appeal to music and art fans all over the world.”

“Artists and the audience always tell us it feels like they’re home when they’re here,” explains Frey. “We really think that feeling of home can be the same for anyone around the world who appreciates art and music.”


Green Art People is located at 140 N. Ventura Ave. in Ventura. There will be a special fundraiser featuring Rainbow Girls this Friday, March 6, at 8 p.m. The next Short Attention Span Theater will take place on Wednesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. with We Govern We. All shows are all-ages and alcohol-free. To opt in to Green Art People Live, visit http://bit.ly/gaplive. For more information about events and programs at Green Art People visit www.greenartpeople.com.