Historic Filipinotown - The name is different. The owners are different. And the programming, too, won’t be quite the same.
But anyone walking into the recently reopened performance space at 2220 Beverly Boulevard will still recognize the old Bootleg Theater.
“All the same sound equipment is there, and the former sound man and bar/house manager are staying on with the new venue,” said Andrew Maxwell, the managing director and part of the ownership group for the new 2220 Arts + Archives, at the site of the former Bootleg.
The Beverly Boulevard property was sold last June after co-owners Jason and Alicia Adams said they "had reached an impasse of irreconcilable differences" with the partner whom they had purchased the real estate with in 1999. The COVID shutdowns also didn’t help.
The new owners are functioning as an arts cooperative, according to Maxwell.
“Collectively, we’re a group of friends who have been talking about coming together in a larger venue for years, decades really,” Maxwell said. “… Everyone on the team has been involved in independent LA arts programming for a long time – mostly east of the 101.”
Peter Kolovos, another member of the ownership group, directs Black Edition Groups, and has programmed music concerts across the city. That included the last show at the old Bootleg on March 9, 2020, the experimental guitarists-banjoists Eugene Chadbourne and Wendy Eisenberg, the Los Angeles Times said.
Among other members of the collective, Maxwell and Joseph Mosconi have run the Poetic Research Bureau, most recently out of Chinatown. Pauline Lay used to run Pehrspace in Echo Park. Peter and Andrew Choate have had music series in various venues. Harmony Holiday and Rebecca Baron have programmed film, poetry and talks in places like Redcat and MoCA downtown. Even LA Filmforum is working with this group.
Some team members have also had that most valuable of assets, a day job, to support their interest in art.
“Personally, for twenty years, I would find myself commuting two hours to the Westside to clock in at a tech job, and then would race back at night to see a Palestinian poet read in a small gallery space or go to a microcinema in Highland Park," Maxwell said. "Finally, I just threw my hands up and said, even if the Bootleg is awfully big and this is a crazy idea, this side of my life (and this side of town!) is what I care about most. Let’s put it all here.”
Kolovos, however, will continue with his job with his family’s Westside real estate investment and development business, helping keep finances stable, the Times pointed out.
A change of ownership inevitably means a change of approach. Probably half the programming will be cinema and literary, Maxwell said. The music mix is likely to be less rock and indie, and more creative/improvised music, jazz, international, electronic, new experimental, and composed music – the kinds of music that have been harder to sustain in other venues, Maxwell said.
But it won’t be a complete departure.
“There was always an element of interdisciplinary and DIY programming at the Bootleg,” Maxwell said, “and we hope to preserve that spirit at 2220 as well.”
Programming debuted Monday with a solo concert by jazz pianist Jason Moran. Upcoming shows include screenings of films by Nobuhiko Obayashi, assorted free readings, and the FilAm Arts Burlesque Night.