L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Ramps Ups Social Media Campaign to Win Lucas Museum

Norm Langer
Norm Langer
 Norm Langer

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday stepped up his social media campaign to convince filmmaker George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, to locate their new Lucas Cultural Arts Museum in Los Angeles.

Garcetti urged city residents to join the crowdspeak network Thunderclap to amplify their message with the hashtag “#WhyLucasInLA."

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"Make sure you're ready when thunder strikes at 10 AM today," Garcetti said in an email to his massive mailing list. On the minute, 214 supporters used the network to reach 167,467 people via Twitter with the plea for Lucas to build the museum in L.A.

The effort comes on top of Garcetti's call last week for Angelenos to post photos and videos on their various social networks in support of the museum. (Norm Langer, of Langer's Deli, responded by posting a photo of himself in from of the restaurant holding a sandwich. Behind him the Langer's marquee reads: "Mr. Lucas: Build your museum celebrating the art of storytelling here in Los Angeles! -- @LangersDeli.)

Garcetti already has sent his own email exhortation to Lucas and Hobson, writing, “I’m excited about your plan to build the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum. This center presents such an amazing opportunity to inspire creativity, especially in our youth. We'd like you to consider opening your museum in a place where its impact can be amplified like no other, Los Angeles.”

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Lucas initially planned to build his art and film memorabilia repository in San Francisco, but those plans were thrown into uncertainty when his choice in the Presidio area was vetoed and he was offered instead a 2.3-acre site near the Letterman Digital Arts Center.

Hobson is said to be urging Lucas to site the museum, which will hold his extensive collection of American representational and narrative paintings by Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth, as well as film memorabilia, in Chicago. That city has offered a site on its lakefront museum campus, already home to the Field Museum of Natural History and the Shedd Aquarium.

"The city of Chicago has enthusiastically welcomed me, and I consider Chicago to be my second home," Lucas said in a statement. "I look forward to working with community leaders to see if Chicago can become home to the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum."

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Garcetti has taken steps to make available the current site of the old L.A. Sports Arena, which is located in Exposition Park between South Park and USC, where Lucas attended film school. The existing arena, which is run by the Coliseum Commission and currently is used for a handful of concerts and other special events, would be demolished to make way for the new facility.

Molly Fowler, a spokeswoman with Garcetti’s office, told reporters that efforts to speed construction could include the approval of an environmental impact report required for demolition of the Sports Arena.

“[The report] is a pretty significant hurdle and having that in place would really expedite the process of bringing the museum here,” Fowler said.

Lucas is expected to make a decision on the facility’s site sometime this summer.

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