Arts District Venue Shut Down By LAPD Vice Is Going Legit


A nonprofit venue was putting on some great shows in the Arts District, up until the LAPD's Vice Division shut them down. Now, they're campaigning to go legit.

The venue is called play (with a lowercase p), and it launched in the Arts District about two and a half years ago, according to play's Meredith Treinen. She describes it as both a performing and healing arts space. They held theater, music and comedy events, hosting guests like Marc Maron and Reggie Watts, as well as yoga, sound baths and other meditative happenings. They also produced a show consisting of several short plays called Tiny Rhino, which Treinen said they are still hosting at sister venues, as well as a pair of immersive, interactive shows titled Retrograde and Erotica.

Treinen said they were booked every weekend, sometimes drawing 300 to 400 people on any given night for DJs, concerts and other events. When the vice squad decided to pop by, it was a smaller show, but they still told them they couldn't operate anymore.

Play decided that they would use their status as a 501c3 to pull permits for beer and wine. This did not appease vice, who told them they'd need to take all of the proper steps in order to carry on.

"So, we've spent the last six or seven months talking to everyone that we could—experts and people in the community that have been through this process," she said. "We now finally have a plan. And to legitimize the space and be a legit arts venue, we launched a crowdfunding campaign where we are aiming to rise $75,000."

That money will pay for all the necessary permits and a beer and wine license. In the interim, they will continue to produce shows in other spaces while hosting rehearsals and yoga in their space.

The venue is next-door to a future Soho House, a private, members-only club. Soho House's Arts District location, oddly enough, displaced a number of musicians who had been renting the building as a rehearsal space, some of them for many years. If play succeeds, they'll be an actual arts space that gets to stay in the Arts District.

Perks for donors to their campaign includes access to future shows and events. Upcoming shows include FUTURerotica, which will explore, well, human intimacy in the future. This consists of short films, plays and interactive vignettes. Another show is party/play, a party full of immersive entertainment.