Artists Rally Against Sale of Santora Arts Building To Newsong Church

santora.jpg
The artists that work, and basically live, inside the Santora Arts Building in downtown Santa Ana believe their historic structure is a place for expression without barriers. 

It is not a place, they say, for a church. 

Sitting under the painted-glass ceiling panels of the 84-year-old building, the anchor of the city's Artists Village, about 40 artists and community supporters voiced their fears last night for the future of the Santora. Earlier this week, they had discovered that the property is being sold to Irvine-based Newsong Church, and is currently in escrow. 

The church's founder Dave Gibbons, who we profiled in a Weekly cover story, believes the move is an organic one for his congregation--church members have long volunteered in Santa Ana with children, artists and the homeless. "It's part of our natural rhythm to love those who are often marginalized," he tells me by email. Newsong, which has locations in Los Angeles, Mexico City, Bangkok, London and India, is a Christian church with a large Asian American make-up, and emphasizes "loving those who are not like you."   

"We're misfits and we're all about loving other misfits," Gibbons adds. "The artisans at times can be left out of important conversations. We believe these creatives lead us into the future. We passionately affirm the artists, innovators and creatives . . . We partner and pride ourselves in collaborating with the community to create a place of beauty and life especially for those who are often seen as the outsiders." 

But many of the artist-tenants feel stung by the "misfit" term, even offended. "Is that how they see us?" asks Alicia Rojas, president of the United Artists of Santa Ana, which hosted the meeting. "Do they see this as a place that needs to be changed or a place they want to join?"

She adds, "There's always concern when religion wants to mix with art. We don't know if our way of life, our freedom of expression will be upheld. Will there be censorship of a type of art or music? Are they open-minded about homosexuality? Are they open-minded about who we are?"  

Don Cribb, considered the grandfather of the Santa Ana arts movement, believes there is no time to ask questions. "The alligator is already in the swimming pool," he says, referring to the fact that escrow is expected to close in July. "You need to stomp around this block and say, 'We don't want you.'" 

The group discussed possible ways to fight the sale--protesting during downtown Santa Ana's monthly Art Walk event, raising their concerns at the May 7 City Council meeting, staging an "Occupy The Santora" demonstration and circulating a petition. 

"If the church had approached us before they went into escrow, that's when we could have had a discussion," says Tim Rush, a member of the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society advisory board. "That would have been the time to sit down and have tea and cakes. But the train has left the station. They're saying, 'Hey, we're in escrow, you're sure to love us, have a nice day.'"  

Rush explained that churches don't have a great history buying landmarks in town. "Look at the Fox West Coast Theatre [acquired by the Christian Tabernacle], and ask yourself, does this bear any resemblance to its former glory as a cinema house? It's an abortion. Look at the Odd Fellow's Hall.  Look at the Masonic Temple, which was sold to the Church of Scientology. This isn't a good direction. . . . Think how [a church is] going to alter the makeup, the character, the nature, the flavor, the vibe in this building." 

Newsong put out a press release on Tuesday announcing its plans to buy the Santora. Church officials declared that they wanted the building to "serve as a regional and even an international hub for the creative community," though there were no specifics on how the space would be used. "At this stage of the process, we aren't rushing into any particular plans for the building until we really get to know and understand the heart of the current tenants and community stakeholders," stated Shaun King, Newsong's director of communications.  

But an internal Newsong document addressing questions about the building states that "as space becomes available due to normal tenant transitions, we will consider the development of a 300+ seat meeting facility that could accomodate weekend services as well as training during the week." Opponents fear that this would lead to parking problems and may not be structurally sound. It also may not be legal because the Santora is the National Registry of Historic Places, which puts major restrictions on any attempts to alter the space. 

Some artists say it would also affect their daily work. Artist Joseph Hawa paints in his top-floor studio about 40 to 60 hours a week. "How can I work with 300 people chanting and singing?" he asks. "This place was made for art. It was not made for a church." 

Gibbons, currently in Korea, says he knows some believe religion will clash with the secular nature of the arts district, writing, "I can understand their fears. I have the same ones. For too long, religion has been combative versus synergistically collaborative." 

"Over time," he adds, "my hope is that the community will see our intentions by what we do more than what we say." 

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16 comments
The Truth
The Truth

Dave Gibbons is a psychopath. "I can understand their fears. I have the same ones. For too long, religion has been combative versus synergistically collaborative." He is not that smart. This makes no sense whatsoever and representation of his narcissism and the  constant mask he puts up. He  uses the human condition for people to give up their lives for his cause. People entrap themselves in his church after providing evocative traumatic memories in which he pathologically empathizes with them only to exploit them for their gifts. He also lies to his community about knowing top CEO's of fortune 500 companies, hedge funds, etc. It is ironic because corporate capitalism strays away from religious cults nor do they flirt with them. I feel poorly for his wife, Rebecca, and his family as he dictates the household with his personal agendas. Every Sunday the church urgently broaches its audience for more donations due to the church suffering quarterly budget deficits, but somehow he has the ability to muster $3 million dollars for the Santora Arts building. Gibbon is a pathological lier, and his vanity and ego will be his downfall.

David-Michael
David-Michael

Shaun King, Director of Communications for Newsong Church -

Three very big reasons we distrust you;.1. Thank you Annie from Newsong for showing your true colors for the first one:A direct message from Annie Chiang of Newsong/Xealots / Annie Chiang commented on The Orange County Register."To the Santa Ana Artists, Newsong Church will face down your riots and idolatry. We love being oppressed for God! We did a prayer walk around the building and we saw the poor shape that the shops were in and the poor people walking the streets. With or without you NS will partner with the true leaders of your community and change the neighborhood for the better. You'll see!" We'll see?2. Newsong's official view on homosexuality, "A far more complex issue than simply a sexual preference. There are issues of lack of male-affirmation, spiritual hunger, abuse, narcissism, and relational idolatry...that ar...e often not discussed." If this is not your stand, as communications director, you should keep up with what your organization is saying.3. At a building in Santa Ana called PrimeUrban, the main tenant was SolArt Gallery Cafe which ran a community space for arts and youth for years. SolArt was making plans to hold a Queer Ball, a gathering for LGBT high schoolers which would allow them to have the experience that every heterosexual had in high school, but in a safe environment. The event was blocked because PrimeUrban's owners found it offensive to their Christian faith. One of the anti-gay owners? A Newsonger!

I'd say that was three stikes Newsong...

David-Michael
David-Michael

We have to band together and fight for our community!! Newsong has shown their true colors, moving in on our established, forward thinking, and unconditional loving community that looks out for each other. Newsong are opportunists, crying that they are being persecuted in the name of God. Please!!!! Our entire lives most of us have been persecuted!! Newsong will destroy the very fabric of our community. They can quote me on that!!! Their communications director can't even return any of me emails / posts because he is afraid of speaking his truth, they are a homophobic organization that will sensor us!! Show up at my door Newsong, I'll show you persecution!! Have you ever been thrown out on your ass from your very own home for being gay??? Have you ever lived your lives in fear of being bashed and murdered for who you are?? Have you ever faced a group of men holding knives in your face that cut you so you bleed, then kicked you to the ground and called you faggot!! Have you ever been told that you are an abonination??? Have you ever thought that this world does not revole around your belief system??? I don't think so!!! Take your pitty party elsewhere Newsong and then take up your fight up with me, I am not afraid to stare death in the eye!! I have done it so many times due to people like yourselves, all in the name or YOUR god!!. I have no time for people like yourselves, but I will stand up strong any place at any time in front of you cowards!!! You don't scare me, only our TRUE God will have the last word....and you know what, you have MISSED the word of God!! Let us live our lives in peace!!! You should be ashamed of yourselves... I have more important things to deal with, like my angel of a Mom dieing from cancer!!! You are so trite, you should be embarrased!!!

Dsighnr
Dsighnr

We have to band together and fight for our community!! Newsong has shown their true colors, moving in on our established, forward thinking, and unconditional loving community that looks out for each other. Newsong are opportunists, crying that they are being persecuted in the name of God. Please!!!! Our entire lives most of us have been persecuted!! Newsong will destroy the very fabric of our community. They can quote me on that!!! Their communications director can't even return any of me emails / posts because he is afraid of speaking his truth, they are a homophobic organization that will sensor us!! Show up at my door Newsong, I'll show you persecution!! Have you ever been thrown out on your ass from your very own home for being gay??? Have you ever lived your lives in fear of being bashed and murdered for who you are?? Have you ever faced a group of men holding knives in your face that cut you so you bleed, then kicked you to the ground and called you faggot!! Have you ever been told that you are an abonination??? Have you ever thought that this world does not revole around your belief system??? I don't think so!!! Take your pitty party elsewhere Newsong and then take up your fight up with me, I am not afraid to stare death in the eye!! I have done it so many times due to people like yourselves, all in the name or YOUR god!!. I have no time for people like yourselves, but I will stand up strong any place at any time in front of you cowards!!! You don't scare me, only our TRUE God will have the last word....and you know what, you have MISSED the word of God!! Let us live our lives in peace!!! You should be ashamed of yourselves... I have more important things to deal with, like my angel of a Mom dieing from cancer!!! You are so trite, you should be embarrased!!!

Chuichupachichi
Chuichupachichi

{"Tim Rush explained that churches don't have a great history buying landmarks in town"}When Civic Center Dr. used to be named "Church St.", the churches had some of the most impressive buildings in town...but somebody demolished those historic landmarks

{"This isn't a good direction. . . . Think how [a church is] going to alter the makeup, the character, the nature, the flavor, the vibe in this building."}Yea, maybe the Santora will be relegated to being inconspicuously associated with fine art, by merely the same insignificant degree as is the Sistine Chapel? What a terrible hinderance that would be for Santa Ana's Extra-angelos

Its quite ironic that the Liberal Secularist Progressives are considerably concerned with the conservation of a historic building, skeptically questioning the Christian's conservatism

S.A
S.A

The gentrification settlers are being gentrified.pity

Skalleywag
Skalleywag

First, NEWSONG is not a "real" Church.

Second, The homosexual agenda furthered by the artist is posionous to OUR community. Why not put a five and dime there. Most of us in Santa Ana, who have been here long enough remember the joy we got from a fresh slice of pie and a cup of strong coffee Downtown.

This is more CRAZY talk, from mexican nuts that want to play thier Footbal (it's called soccer) in a Stadium, which Mater Dei, plays in. Even though we are a BILLION DOLLAR organization, the public should pay for our stadium. FOOTBAL IS AMERICAN, NOT MEXICAN (unlike my wife).

STOP THIS AND SELL THE SITE TO THE DIOCEASE OF ORANGE!

Artist Lover
Artist Lover

Fascinating how all the anti-Ted Moreno comments on New Santa Ana because anti-Tim Rush comments by admin who must hate freedom of speech.  Wonder how the church will like that photoshopped image of Theo Hirsch anally raping Jesus Christ -- now that's a radical opinion!

David-Michael
David-Michael

"The Homosexual Agenda".....Something evangelical religeous groups and other hate mongers dreamed up in order to control a group of people. Their goal; Stir up as much fear in the minds of their "followers" and those that are unable to form their own opinions because they are to busy being little lambs following a masked demon. When someone from one these groups can actually tell me what the "Homosexual Agenda" is, I am going to roll on the floor laughing. The only "agenda" (their word, not mine) I know of is for the LGBT community to be able to live a life equal to that of heterosexuals. We need to mirror this agenda thing back at these hateful groups, they are the ones with the "agenda", and it is not christian like in any shape or form.

skallywag
skallywag

Who is that motherfucker who calls himself Skalleywag?

skallywag
skallywag

This comment was not posted by me.

skallywag

S.A. Artist
S.A. Artist

 Homosexual Agenda?  Dude we just want to make art, make a living, and live in a loving community, we don't care if you love men or women or the hybrids down the street. 

Glenn Belen
Glenn Belen

I'm curious about this Homosexual Agenda... is that the new grilled cheese place on 3rd and Main? Are you saying they are going to put poison in the food because I don't think I would want to eat there if that's the case.

FelineDeMercedes
FelineDeMercedes

I don't know, mut I am pretty sure that "SKALLYWAG" is Mike Tardif, who also calls himself "Junior" and is vehemetly opposed to Homosexuals and Marijuana use.

He is also an opponent of Soccer being played in a publc stadium, and instead believes that Mater Dei, should have priority in a public venue.

In other words he's a relic from the fifties who wishes he could rid Santa Ana of mexicans........except his wife of course!  

Skalleywag
Skalleywag

I know, it was posted by Skalleywag. Don't get so upset, it's like Joe Hill, Jubal, Concerned Citizen or even Junior.

Just a fake name by a blowhard afraid of his hypocrisy.

You do agree with me Mike that The Catholic Church, Mater Dei specifically has more right to eddie West than say, local soccer fans right??????

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