A group of community organizers, business and religious leaders, editors, and writers recently gathered in the Venice Canal Historic District to join the 40-year old Beyond Baroque’s board of Trustees.

Committed to responding to the broad challenges facing Los Angeles’s most prestigious institutions, the enlarged group announced a campaign to broaden and deepen the organization’s outreach and resources, said literary organization Beyond Baroque’s president Fred Dewey.

New members joined returning president Dewey, secretary AmÈlie Frank and standing board chief financail officer Richard Modiano.

“An institution with an amazing history just got a little more amazing,” said Dewey. “Experiment and preservation can now advance together.”

The new members, Steven Flusty, Jerry Garcia, Grace Godlin, Elaine Katzenberger, David Matlin, Paul Sawyer, Amanda Seward and V. Vale joined the board December 1st.

“I am excited to be part of this dynamic organization,” said Seward, a Venice attorney and a local organizer.

“The eight new trustees have been chosen from divergent backgrounds and will bring an exceptional mix of skills, love of the arts, business, religious and legal expertise and a commitment to the Venice community, and proven track records,” Dewey said.

Over the last year, Dewey, Frank, and Modiano have been working with a team of consultants to negotiate a new 25-year lease of the Venice City Hall building for the organization. This is now nearing completion with the City of Los Angeles.

Joining the executive committee will now be GarcÌa as vice president and Seward as general counsel.

Seward, a local organizer and Venice attorney who secured historic designation for Lincoln Place and fought to preserve its low-income apartments, appreciates the literary center’s key role in Venice.

“Beyond Baroque is a Venice treasure, fitly housed in the original town hall of our community,” Seward said, adding “I am excited to be part of this dynamic organization.”

Godlin, a community advocate, local Venice Beat historian, and neighbor for three decades, praised the institution’s efforts to “honor, preserve, and protect the rich literary history of Venice and Los Angeles, to inspire and enrich future generations.”

Godlin is a former Los Angeles Unified School District teacher. She wrote the play A Night With the Holy Barbarians about the Venice Beats, premiering at Beyond Baroque. She is president of Voice of the Canals, the residents’ organization of the Venice Canals, and serves on the board of the Venice Historical Society.

Katzenberger, executive director of City Lights Bookstore & Publishers in San Francisco, added, “It’s wonderful to become part of the Beyond Baroque community. There is nothing like this organization anywhere in the country, not in San Francisco or New York for that matter. I am eager to help expand and build on the amazing work it has been doing.”

Sawyer, a Unitarian minister from Pasadena and former student of poets Charles Olson and Robert Creeley, said, “It is important that this long-standing creative literary institution be strengthened in this capitol cinematic city.” Sawyer, who has brought poets such as Robert Duncan and Vincent Ferrini to the Los Angeles area, has been active in national interfaith projects.

Valley Contemporary Poets co-director Garcia has a business, V.6 Postproduction, Inc., in Burbank, which serves studio advertising and publicity divisions and has produced promotions for the California Special Olympics, Children of the Night, KCET, Project Angel Food and the MS Society

“Beyond Baroque has played an important role in my mentorship as a writer, as it has for thousands of people spread out all over the country,” said Garcia. “I want to give back, using my extensive experience in the motion picture business to strengthen fundraising and visibility.”

Flusty, a writer, editor, and recent program director for the Department of Geography at the University of York in Toronto, is a Los Angeles native who worked at the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. He has written and edited several books on Los Angeles and other global cities.

Vale is founder and editor of RE/Search Publications in San Francisco and has published over 40 books, magazines, CDs and DVDs.

Beyond Baroque is at 681 Venice Blvd. in the old Venice City Hall, built about 100 years ago.

Dewey noted that Beyond Baroque has a “history of helping emerging and established writers, providing a nurturing place to meet and build new community, offering free workshops, literary and cultural events, publications, a 40,000-volume archive, bookstore, project room, backyard garden and curation of public art projects.

“It has nurtured or featured on its staff many of Los Angeles’ internationally known underground writers and has become one of the premiere reading spaces in the United States. The institution’s focus has always been to preserve Venice’s strong counter-cultural and bohemian roots.”

To mark the launch of the 40th anniversary campaign, Dewey announced a $20,000 donation from a major artist living in Venice who is very sympathetic to the institution’s spirit.

In the spring of 2009, Beyond Baroque will begin a series of public gatherings, conducted through its advisory boards, to listen and collect ideas on how the institution might better serve Los Angeles, the national arts and literary communities.

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