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Martial Arts Museum Says 'Goodbye' to SCV

Posted: February 18, 2008 9:16 p.m.
Updated: April 19, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
To The Editor:

I want to applaud former Mayor Laurene Weste for her interest in bringing a permanent, cultural facility to the city of Santa Clarita. It takes a person with a vision to see how a museum can benefit the community, but more importantly, how a cultural facility can educate our youth. One way to combat racism and prejudice is to introduce young people to the traditions of different cultures.

The Martial Arts History Museum, which opened in the old community center in June 2007, is designed as an educational center to teach children about Asian art forms and how they are connected with the martial arts. The last thing I wanted was a punch and kick museum, but our goal, and I believe we were accomplishing it, was to enlighten our kids on how Asian history became part of American history through Asian martial arts.

Another unique feature that came with the museum was to attract new visitors to the downtown Newhall area. Because we are the world's first museum of its kind, I was happy to provide the city council with pages of visitors from Australia, New York, Mexico, England, Hawaii, Italy, etc. The martial arts are practiced all over the world and people came out of their way to visit the museum.

During my many talks with the city, they kept stressing their goal of finding new ways to attract visitors to Newhall and that's exactly what we did. With thousands of visitors in just seven months, we attracted people who would have never come to Newhall if it wasn't for the museum.

I was also very thrilled that the museum was approved by the school districts which we were pleased to have a variety of schools already taking field trips to the museum. In addition, since Santa Clarita has many home schools, the museum served as a local place they could easily visit.

So, overall, a) the museum brought a host of visitors to Newhall; b) brought business to the local restaurants; c) served as an educational facility for our children; d) benefited the local residents with weekly seminars and film marathons; e) established a cultural facility in a city that has so few cultural events; f) was part of the overall plan for downtown Newhall and g) was a place in which several film studios were now involved with.

It was by the suggestion of Congressman McKeon's office that we locate the museum in Santa Clarita and former Mayor Weste's agreement that the museum should be here.

Unfortunately, it takes more than suggestions or agreements; it takes support from the city council. Though the Santa Clarita community came to arms to support the museum with memberships and donations, it still takes city council backing. As stated by former Mayor McLean in a December council meeting, if something is a benefit to the community, the city will assist it. Though the museum is a business, the goal is serving the community. It is a non-profit organization which depends on support.

Granted, it is not the city's job to finance a business, but it is the city's job to address cultural diversity and serve the community and make the best choices that would benefit our children and future generations.

I am very disappointed in how our city council has ignored the diverse cultures of this community. I am very discouraged in our representatives such as Cameron Symth, Senator Runner and Mayor Kellar who were hired by the citizens of this city to listen to its local residents, turn a deaf ear to a museum that serves to represent the Asian American community of this city.

I am also disappointed in how our city council would choose to assist in funding a "for profit" sports facility instead of a cultural center that has already proven it is benefiting our community.

The museum is a self-running facility. We were only asking for a small amount of assistance as we qualify for grants. Again, granted, I understand that the city has funds designed for specific areas. But, I also see how the city has been able to sponsor large stages for non-city events with only a moment's notice.

This is a great city which I am proud to be a citizen of for over twenty years and a great place to hang out since the '70s at the old Saugus Drive-In. But, I am disappointed in the city council's choices of how to best serve our community.

I do want to say a huge thank you to Supervisor Michael Antonovich who played a key role in one of our main cultural events.

Therefore, it is with great sadness that I have chosen to relocate the museum to the city of Los Angeles. Though the landlord has been extremely gracious to extend our stay in Santa Clarita, it is better to relocate to an area in which embraces cultural diversity instead of ignoring it.

As I was saddened to see Newhall Hardware close its doors this week, I was sad to close the doors to the museum as well.

I would like to extend a special thank you to The Signal for its amazing journalists who took the time to come to many of our events and enlighten the community about Asian art and culture. A second thank you to our Cable Access channel, which continually ran our announcements.

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