Founder of Santa Monica Airport Art Studios to Cede Role After Council Vote

Yossi Govrin, founder of Santa Monica Airport Art Studios, will hand over management of the art center to 18th Street Art Center after a Santa Monica City Council Vote Tuesday. Photo: Facebook.

Yossi Govrin to hand over management of Santa Monica Airport Art Studios to 18th Street Arts Center. 

By Sam Catanzaro

The Santa Monica City Council has voted to award the management of Santa Monica Airport Art Studios to 18th Street Art Studios, forcing Airport Arts Studio founder Yossi Govrin to step down from managing the art center at Santa Monica Airport.

In 2016 the City of Santa Monica revised their City Airport Leasing Policy. Part of this revision included eliminating the practice of subleasing City property that resulted in windfall profits to many aviation tenants holding master leases. Since 2016, the City has been working to close out all master leases at the Airport and establish direct leases between the City and all current subtenants.

One of the last of the existing leases to be brought into compliance is with the Santa Monica Airport Art Studios, the private entity currently managing and operating the City-owned 22,000 square-foot airplane hangar houses 35 artists in 29 studios located at the Santa Monica Airport.

“Establishing new lease terms for the existing SMAS facility necessitated a different business model for the arts program at the site, which allowed the City to consider how it might best utilize this public asset to enhance its support for artists and the public in the future,” reads a City staff report.

The City put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to choose new management of the project. Three entities submitted bids to manage the art center: Santa Monica Arts Studio (rebranded as Maxima Art Initiative), 18th Street Art Center and a Downtown Los Angeles based art center. A panel of outside experts looked at the RFP and chose the 18th Street Arts Center to take over management of the Santa Monica Airport Art Studios in 2019.

On Tuesday night, City Council had the option to either approve the panel’s recommendation and choose the 18th Street Arts Studios or reject the panel’s recommendation and start the selection process over again. After hours of public comment, primarily from supporters of Santa Monica Airport Art Studios praising Govrin, City Council voted to adopt the panel’s recommendation and award management of the Santa Monica Airport Art Studios to 18th Street Arts Center.

The motion passed with a 6-1 vote, with Councilmember Greg Morena being the only “no” vote.