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Leimert Park group provides black artists with a stage

Situated in the very heart of Leimert Park, the World Stage is an educational and performance art space dedicated to keeping the culture of African-American artists alive in Los Angeles.

Founded in 1989 by the late jazz drummer Billy Higgins, and by poet and community arts activist Kamau Daáood, the organization has grown from a loose collective of artists and arts supporters, to a vibrant hub for the South Los Angeles’s music and art community, securing, preserving and advancing the position of African-American music, literature and works in the oral tradition to a local, national and international audience.

“The World Stage is the undisputed cornerstone of Leimert Park. Everybody knows that this is our church and our stabilizing force,” said Dwight Trible, executive director. “Anyone that has ears to hear and eyes to see are welcome. Art has no boundaries. 

“Our motto is, everyone that comes through those doors is one of God’s children so they are somebody special. It does not matter if you are homeless or rich, we treat everybody the same, with love and respect.” 

The nonprofit offers affordable weekly workshops in music and literary arts and ticketed performances from a range of renowned artists. The weekly workshops not only provide the community with quality arts education, but links youth with elders in the African-American cultural tradition. 

As someone who grew up without much access to art programs, Trible believes that the organization offers the community a unique opportunity to experience the power and pleasure in immersing oneself in a variety of creative endeavors. 

Trible is excited to work for an organization that not only seeks to foster exchange and interaction between artists of all ages and levels, but provides a place for self-discovery, experimentation and critical feedback in a nourishing environment. 

“[I came] from the inner-city projects of Cincinnati, with absolutely no access to institutions for progressive art expression outside of what my inner circle provided for each other,” Trible said. “I feel this is in large part what we are doing here at TWS, creating a space to share grow, and be exposed to new artistic expression in a grassroots organic way.”

Workshops are generally offered to the public for $5 but no one is turned away for lack of funds. Offerings include Monday’s “Drum Workshop” for children of all ages, Tuesday’s “Jazz Vocal Workshop and Jazz Vocal Jam,” Wednesday’s “Anansi Writer’s Workshop,” Thursday’s “Women’s African Drum Circle” and “Jazz Jam Session,” Saturday’s “Jazz Workshop,” and Sunday’s “Woodwind Workshop,” “Roots First Global History of Rhythm Class”  and “Sisters of Jazz Jam Session.” 

Performances occur on Friday and Saturday evenings. 

Trible knows that reaching a 30-year milestone is no small feat and he understands that the group could not have achieved this goal without the help of the community. 

“Most of our staff, including me, are volunteers,” Trible said. “We are people who understand that giving service is an investment in ourselves and our community. I like to think of it as one of the last pure movements. Money is not our motivation.”

However, creating the next generation of African American artists is. 

The organization can point to many notable alumni who have honed their creative skills through training and exposure at the World Stage and look forward to nurturing many more.

“You never know when the next Kamasi Washington or Terrace Martin will show up,” Trible said. “[We] exist only with the support from the community and in order to continue to serve the community and build upon our mission through educational programs and performances, we are in need of additional [financial] support.”

Trible is determined that the World Stage continues to be a venue to keep the history of African-American artist alive for the next generation. 

“My mentors and elders like Horace Tapscott, Billy Higgins, Rozelle Sykes, Oscar Brown Jr., Harold Land, Juno Lewis, Ronald Muldrow, Cecil Ferguson, Raphiel Murphy and many more that we don’t have space to print, are all gone now and my generation are now the elders,” Trible said. “Gosh it happened so fast.”

“But I guess that’s what it’s all about … ‘passin’ the vibe.’”

With so many accomplishments to point to, Trible is looking forward to seeing what the future holds for future TWS participants. 

“I believe the arts always helps to create a more intelligent and more compassionate society,” Trible said. “I pray that we have had a hand in tipping the scales in that direction.”

INFORMATION BOX

Organization: The World Stage 

Leader: Dwight Trible

Title: Executive Director 

Social Media: Website: https://www.theworldstage.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theworldstage/

Angela N. Parker