Watts Towers needs our help again!

Posted in Take Action, Threatened Environments

Please join us in demonstrating to official Los Angeles and their Department of Cultural Affairs the depth and breadth of support that the Watts Towers and its Arts Center continues to maintain among supporters worldwide.


On April 9, Arts Center Director Rosie Lee Hooks was put on a three-week work suspension, effective immediately, punishment for the petty infraction of having a mural of jazz great Charles Mingus (raised in Watts) painted on the very building named after him at the Watts Towers Art Center.


The entire Arts Center staff has signed and sent a reasoned and detailed letter to Mayor Garcetti’s office protesting this injustice.


We have also learned that Cultural Affairs plans to contract out the production of the Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival and the Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival.


Please help us impress upon the representatives of the Los Angeles City government the importance of open communication with the staff of the Watts Towers Arts Center and the support groups who have worked together over years with the community out of which Rodia’s Towers grew.  We ask you to put your name to the letter we have prepared below and to send it to everyone on the “Mail to:” list beneath the letter. 


Make whatever changes in the letter you feel will best reflect your perspective. Then, send the letter to the first address on the list (Danielle Brazell, General Manager, Department of Cultural Affairs) and cc all the following names.


Please help us to protect the Watts Towers Arts Center, its director and its staff, so they can continue to work for the betterment of the people of Watts and the city of Los Angeles.


Thank you!


On behalf of

The Watts Towers Community Action Council

The Friends of the Watts Towers Arts Center

The Parents of the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus

The Watts Towers Arts Center Youth Board


Learn more about the Watts Towers here: http://spacesarchives.org/explore/collection/environment/watts-towers/


Dear Ms. Brazell,


I am writing to express my shock and dismay at the shortsightedness of the Department of Cultural Affairs for putting the Director of the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus on an immediate three-week suspension. 


Rosie Lee Hooks is an internationally honored community arts administrator and educator who has served the City of Los Angeles and the Watts community for decades. How is it that she is being punished for approving the painting of a mural portrait of the jazz giant Charles Mingus – who grew up in Watts – on the Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center, named for him when it was built more than ten years ago? The department’s action is not only an affront to Ms. Hooks but to the cultural legacy of the community itself.


Ms. Hooks has followed in the tradition of all past directors of the Arts Center to bring attention to the artistic heritage of Watts. They have all initiated the murals and mosaics adorning the buildings of the Campus with community artists. None of them were required to seek department approval for such Campus improvements and none of them ever received even so much as a reprimand. 


The department’s disproportionate reaction in Ms. Hooks’ case also takes her away from the Campus when she has to plan and organize the Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival and the Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival, scheduled for the end of September.  By effectively shortening the time Ms. Hooks has available to present these world famous events at the level of quality she has for almost 20 years, your department will bear the responsibility for undercutting their success. You must also be aware that if the department attempts to contract out the production of the Festival, this will likewise be regarded as a serious affront not only to the Watts community but to the music community that has participated in the Festivals and the Arts Center’s Jazz Mentorship Program over the years.


I stand by Rosie Lee Hooks, the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus staff, and the Watts community support groups. I urge you to reverse Ms. Hooks’ suspension immediately. She must be allowed to work for the betterment of the Campus and the community as she has always done – in the spirit of open communication and mutual cooperation. That is the value of community arts in a healthy society.


I ask as well that you help the Campus obtain the support of the City Councilmember to whose district the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus has brought world-class arts exhibitions, and professional arts and music education for over 50 years.       


Rodia’s Towers, the Watts Towers Arts Center, and the Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center inspire all who visit with the spirit of freedom, initiative, and multi-ethnic harmony.  The City of Los Angeles cannot afford to have such powerful symbols of peace and community be lost in these troubled times.


Sincerely yours,



In support of

The Watts Towers Community Action Council

The Friends of the Watts Towers Arts Center

The Parents of the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus

The Watts Towers Arts Center Youth Board     


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