Thank you to Sandra Endo from Fox New’s Good Day LA for sharing the story of the Warner Grand Theatre and the work Grand Vision Foundation has been doing for the last two and a half decades to preserve the theatre and keep it active as a beacon for the performing arts in downtown San Pedro.

Good Day LA’s Sandra Endo met with Executive Director Liz Shcindler Johnson and Artistic & Deputy Director Taran Schindler. They shared the inspiring tale of how Grand Vision Foundation rescued the iconic Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.

In 1996, when the theater’s fate hung in the balance, a group of concerned citizens from San Pedro came together to form Grand Vision Foundation. Their unwavering commitment and tireless efforts prevented the demolition of this cherished cultural landmark.

Now we celebrate a new chapter in the theatre’s preservation, as it is set to begin a magnificent $15 million renovation, ensuring its vitality for the next 100 years. Together, we can continue to nurture and protect our cherished community spaces.


Video Transcript:

Sandra Endo: Good morning, that’s right we’re talking about sisters, who have worked for decades, to not only keep history alive, but to preserve it for the future generations, to enjoy – all in an effort to foster performance, entertainment, and culture. Saving the arts in San Pedro and this glorious piece of history, the Warner Grand Theatre.

Taran Schindler: It was opened as a movie palace and it was the most beautiful of many in the in the area.

Sandra Endo: This theater was one of three in the LA area built by Warner Bros. studios back in the 1930s, but after decades of different ownership, and disrepair, two were demolished, and the Warner Grand remains the only one left standing.

Liz Schindler Johnson: I first saw the theater in the 90s. I fell in love immediately with its spectacular architecture and interior design, but I saw also what poor condition it was in and I thought if I got involved I could make a difference.

Taran Schindler: You do have these beautiful lofts where if you go in them the view is pretty spectacular.

Sandra Endo: and the difference sisters Liz Schindler Johnson and Taran Schindler are making is huge for the San Pedro Community. Through their nonprofit Grand Vision Foundation their tireless efforts to save the 1500-seat theater from becoming a swap meet to turning it into a beacon of the arts is finally paying off.

Liz Schindler Johnson: Grand Vision was responsible for redoing all the seats that you see. Really bringing it up to a usable, functional level. Stage rigging, stage extension, all sorts of things that we really needed. But a lot of the beautiful decoration, it’s never been touched, and some of it really needs some work right now.

Taran Schindler: The ceiling in here in the auditorium behind us is actually one of the best ceilings in Los Angeles. It hasn’t been touched since 1931. It’s quite spectacular.

Sandra Endo: There are supposedly some friendly ghosts living here. Also, check out the projection room. Countless fundraisers and relentless advocacy kept the doors open. Lobbying LA city to buy it in 1996, allowing for stage shows to continue and for the arts to thrive.

Liz Schindler Johnson: This community really values, the history and the memories but we also value our future opportunity to have young people come in here and see cultural events, and you know experience entertainment.

Liz Schindler Johnson at the Jumping Jack Flash concert: It’s an awesome party just like we promised!

Sandra Endo: Grand Vision Foundation just celebrated the kick-off of breathing new life into this historical landmark on the verge of a $15 million renovation project, slated to start in January.

Taran Schindler: But now even more so it’s like a living breathing performing arts center and it’s open to all different styles of performance and people.

Liz Schindler Johnson: We never believed it’s possible what has become possible here.

Taran Schindler: It’s a beacon for the arts and it’s also an anchor for the community.

Sandra Endo: Sisters showing what is possible by those with passion and a vision like Grand Vision.

Liz Schindler Johnson: We’re looking to a very positive future here. It’s very gratifying.

Sandra Endo: All right with the Warner Grand Theatre undergoing a major renovation soon the investment in the arts, right there is creating a whole vibrant district in the heart of San Pedro for the entire community to enjoy. You’re seeing all these small businesses thrive a lot of development in that area as well and if you’ve ever been to this theater you walk in and you feel transported to another place another time and then just seeing a lot of kids go to the theater for the first time and their eyes just wide open experiencing this and getting to for the first time is just magical to see.

Melvin Robert: Yeah it’s so cool what the sisters are doing to preserve the legacy of live performance and historical monuments in the community too.

Sandra Endo: Yeah, yeah they’re preserving that, it does have a historical status for the city as well and it’s good to see the city investing in the arts as well.

Jennifer Lahmers: Yeah, yeah sure.