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MARKET MASH, An All-Day Anniversary Celebration
Set for October 8, 2017
at the World Famous Melrose Trading Post

LOS ANGELES, CA (June 6, 2017) – Nonprofit Greenway Arts Alliance (GAA), under the direction of Co-Founders Whitney Weston and Pierson Blaetz, will celebrate its 20th Anniversary of uniting communities through art, education and social enterprise on October 8, 2017. GAA, a community leader and role model in social enterprise, runs the Greenway Court Theatre (a professional 99-seat theater), the Greenway Institute for the Arts (an arts education program at Fairfax High School, Title 1 high school in Los Angeles) and the Melrose Trading Post (a weekly open-air arts based marketplace). An all-day community celebration of Greenway Arts Alliance’s 20th Anniversary will take place at the world famous Melrose Trading Post on Sunday, October 8, 2017. Additional details will be announced at a later date.

In 1997, artist-activists Weston and Blaetz both were working and living in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles. They decided to pursue the idea of creating an arts education program at Fairfax High School. Their idea was simple: pass on their love of the theatre and the arts to the students at this underserved school. What they faced were the lack of funds, the bureaucracy of a school district and lack of community participation. What they had was commitment, resilience and, as professional actors, a healthy armor against rejection. What they created turned into the Greenway Arts Alliance that in its 20 years has created opportunity for students, the school, artists and the greater Fairfax community by developing programs, services and a social enterprise netting over $8 million with 100% going back to the theatre, arts, education and serving the Fairfax community.

“Twenty years ago, Pierson and I saw the enormous possibilities in partnering with Fairfax High School. We knew that arts education and working with the school could be transformative – for them and for us,” said Whitney Weston.” “Our initial introduction was a parents’ meeting at which only two parents, the principal were there. We quickly realized more than an arts program, the school needed money. And so we created the Melrose Trading Post, which was supposed to be a one-day event and has since become both an economic generator but also an incredible teaching tool for the students. That initial foray has turned into a commitment of excellence for the students, the artists and the community. We could not have done it without the support of LAUSD, who allowed us to experiment with this ‘outside the box’ idea and gave us permission to run with it.”

“What was a single idea for the school has grown into a community based partnership that has benefitted the entire Fairfax community. Families make their living through Melrose Trading Post, students find their passion through the Greenway Institute and many professional artists have built their careers at the Greenway Court Theatre,” said Pierson Blaetz. He added, “In looking ahead, we are eager to share our unique approach. Based on the hundreds of inquiries we have received from schools and nonprofits, there are many organizations who could benefit from our successes and learn from our mistakes over the past 20 years. In many ways, we’ve never felt stronger and more prepared to be artists, educators and community builders.”

“The vision of Greenway Arts Alliance co-founders Whitney Weston and Pierson Blaetz has positively impacted our students,” said Kenneth N. Adiekweh, Principal of LAUSD’s Fairfax High School. “Through the Greenway Institute for the Arts, our students have engaged in arts education programming that encourages their creativity and builds upon their education at Fairfax High School. Through our partnership, our students learn leadership skills, business acumen and the importance of community. The Melrose Trading Post has provided business opportunities for the community, and financial support for the school that, over the years, has helped pay for everything from desks to sports equipment and scholarships. We are proud to partner with Greenway Arts Alliance and to celebrate its 20 years of enduring contributions to our school and the community.”

The economic impact of GAA’s efforts has also been significant. Greenway has leveraged revenue for both the high school and the greater Fairfax community. Within its first 15 years, the Melrose Trading Post generated $6 million for Fairfax High School and GAA. It has provided employment for over 2,000 students and 10,000 vendors. Fund raising efforts by GAA and its organizations have resulted in more than $1 million for arts education at Fairfax High School. In addition, Greenway Court, a building on the school’s campus, was renovated into a state of the art 99-seat theatre for professional performances and arts education for the students and the community at large. The Stanford Social Innovation Review said, “Greenway Arts Alliance spearheaded by Blaetz and Weston has become a model for turning a school into a financially viable community center.”

On Sunday, October 8, 2017, Greenway Arts Alliance will celebrate its 20th Anniversary with an all-day event at the Melrose Trading Post entitled Market Mash. The celebration is being directed by theatre producer/director Rick Sparks.

“I’m extremely honored to have met Whitney and Pierson at the cusp of their philanthropic and artistic mission over 22 years ago. I’ve directed myriad productions for Greenway Court Theatre, worked within the Melrose Trading Post, and mentored youth as part of Greenway Institute for the Arts’ student outreach programs. I continue to marvel at Whitney and Pierson’s quest for bettering young people’s character by exposing them to art, responsibility and education,” said Market Mash director, Rick Sparks. “Market Mash will not only toast past and future years of Greenway Arts Alliance, but also celebrate our marvelous community where everybody’s an original in a madcap festival of photo ops, cult stars, music, magic, poetry, dance, and many surprises.”

Specific details and entertainment line-up for the event will be announced at a later date.

In addition to the Market Mash, Greenway Court Theatre is launching the Greenway Residency Program, in celebration of GAA’s 20th Anniversary and their long history of collaborating with Los Angeles theatre companies. The Greenway Residency Program provides a unique partnership that utilizes shared resources to support the cultivation of new work by Los Angeles’ established theatre companies that lack a permanent home. This one-year residency includes one full co-production slot in the Greenway Court Theatre 2017/2018 season and the opportunity to use the theatre’s space to create and workshop additional new work throughout the year as schedule permits. Applications are available on the Greenway Court Theatre website and are due by June 15, 2017.

Greenway Court Theatre will also present Amy Ludwig’s adaptation of Sandra Cisneros’
The House of Mango Street in conjunction with Greenway Institute for the Arts’ Greenway Reads program, in honor of Greenway Arts Alliance’s 20-year milestone. Greenway Reads is a professional production that is directly related to the curriculum at Fairfax High School.

Greenway Institute for the Arts will add to the 20th Anniversary celebration with Market Mash performances from Fairfax High School students participating in GIA’s programs.

GREENWAY ARTS ALLIANCE (GAA) – Since its 1997 inception, the Greenway Arts Alliance has united communities through the arts, education and social enterprise. Through Greenway Court Theatre’s professional theatre productions, Greenway Institute for the Arts’ education programs and the Melrose Trading Post’s weekly art-based open market, Greenway Arts Alliance builds a vibrant artistic community in the heart of Los Angeles. GAA has modeled an innovative partnership with the Fairfax High School campus to leverage community resources to connect the profession artistic and public education communities around a commitment to learning and creation in the arts. Greenway Arts Alliance was Co-Founded by artists-activists Whitney Weston and Pierson Blaetz, both of whom serve as Co-Artistic Directors for the organization.

GREENWAY COURT THEATRE – Greenway Court was initially built by Fairfax High School students in 1939 as a class project and used as a Social Hall by both students and faculty. It sat virtually unused for many years until it was finally renovated into a professional 99-seat theatre by Greenway Arts Alliance in 2000, to benefit both the school and the surrounding community.

Greenway Court Theatre has a rich history of presenting and producing diverse bodies of work. Greenway has opened its door to many main-stage productions, weekly open mic poetry, festivals and world premieres that have moved to larger venues and toured across the country.

GREENWAY INSTITUTE FOR THE ARTS – An arts education program in theatre, dance and film for students at the Fairfax High School, a Title 1 high school in the Los Angeles Unified School district. Greenway Institute for the Arts promotes arts education though both in-class and after-school programs in theatre, dance and film. Through the generosity of our funders, classes and workshops are provided free of charge to Fairfax High School students. Presented with opportunities to engage with professional artists, young people are able to discover their individual voices and passions that can lead to careers in the arts.

MELROSE TRADING POST – A pioneering arts-based marketplace held every Sunday on the Fairfax High School campus. Every Sunday, the Melrose Trading Post offers a constantly evolving experience, with a curated selection of handcrafted artisan goods, eclectic art and craft, vintage fashion, antique furniture and one-of-a-kind treasures.

Through admission and vendor fees, the Melrose Trading Post has grown to become the most successful ongoing social enterprise program in the history of Los Angeles Unified School District, awarding grants to Fairfax High School organizations for sports equipment, beautification projects, teacher programs, theatre productions, and more – totaling well over seven million dollars since the Melrose Trading Post’s humble beginnings in 1997. Through Greenway Arts Alliance, the Melrose Trading Post provides formal job and life skills training to large numbers of paid and volunteer students from Fairfax High School – the first real-world job experience for many. The market also serves as an incubator to promote small community businesses and budding entrepreneurs, many of them professional artists, by providing affordable retail opportunities in a prime, high-traffic location.

Additionally, the popular weekly market has always featured local musicians. In 2014, the market expanded to include even more opportunities for local artists through an outdoor, year-long series of music, dance, theater and spoken word events via the Greenway Arts Main Stage and MTP Corner Stage.

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