From “Friend of the Show” Alicia Rojas:
The United Artists of Santa Ana (UASA) has been informed that NewSong Church of Irvine is withdrawing its bid to purchase the Santora Arts Building due to economic considerations that could not be resolved with the seller. While we felt that the sale of the building to a religious group would not be a good fit for the Santora, we respect NewSong’s leadership for understanding the validity of our concerns and working with UASA and the City to forge a meaningful agreement that would protect the nature of the Santora and the Artists Village.
UASA will continue to partner with the City and other business and civic leaders to form a Santora Steering Committee that will seek an arts-friendly investor who will secure the historic building’s future as an anchor for arts-based revitalization in the heart of Santa Ana.
If Santa Ana really values its arts community — one of the best things it currently has going for it — then it will work with it to preserve the Santora as the flagship of its downtown tourism. The notion of the art space being turned over to an evangelical church, however pleasant its members and message, was jarring. (Not “selling a building to Scientology”-level jarring, but at least that could never happen in Santa Ana — right?)
The thing to bear in mind is that while the NewSong bid had its problematic aspects — aspects that to each of their credit UASA and the Church did try to work through in good faith — the next bid could come from an entity much worse. Mike Harrah held the Santora Building, in part, as a kind of public trust. Can he take a little less money from the deal to leave a little better city? He’ll have plenty of people — including Santa Ana artists — hoping that he can.