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Why Greater L.A. Needs a Center for the Middle East & North Africa

And How You Can Make It a Reality

In a world dominated by news and entertainment media, we find ourselves constantly bombarded with negative representations of Arab/Muslim culture. Extremist groups like ISIS and the Taliban dominate the discourse, while Palestine, Iran, Iraq and other countries are painted with a shallow brush. Events like the Charlie Hebdo attack and films like American Sniper can feed Islamophobia and cause anti-Arab/Muslim behavior. But why allow extremism and discrimination to define our communities, when arts and education can help us humanize our voices?

You can absolutely make a difference in how the American mainstream perceives Arab/Muslim/Middle Eastern cultures, by supporting our 2015 Capital Campaign:

• We reach out to Hollywood producers, directors, writers, actors & publicists to help correct misinformation and encourage deeper, more diverse portrayals of Arabs/Muslims

• Public programs bring together Arabs, Jews, Christians & other concerned citizens for thoughtful discussions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Turkey et alia

• Exhibitions display the beautiful art of Arab, Iranian, Sephardic, Armenian, Turkish & other artists from the region

• Concerts of world music offer monthly opportunities to hear new and traditional music from the Arab world, the Balkans, Turkey, Armenia, Iran, Afghanistan & beyond

• Film screenings, partially supported by the Golden Globes organization (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) feature directors and sometimes cast members in discussion after each screening

• Authors of diverse Middle Eastern heritage present new novels, creative nonfiction, biographies and memoirs to appreciative audiences

The Art of Character

Or How a British Pakistani Upstart Turned Herself Inside Out

By Sheana Ochoa 

If you're like me, you're fascinated by actors who can transform themselves on stage and play multiple characters convincingly in a sitting. That's acting. The inimitable Marlon Brando, who died ten years ago, said that acting is not an art, it is a business, but anyone watching his oeuvre of films would disagree. Let's agree that acting is a craft, like any art, that must be practiced and honed. Happily, once in a while a new talent comes to us with such presence and authenticity, the artistic merit of the work cannot be denied. Nadia P. Manzoor's one-woman autobiographical play Burq Off! — which breezed into Los Angeles for a mere three-day run on its way to San Francisco-is one such ennobling and humanizing tour de force.

It's also hysterically funny.

Arab and Iranian Typography in Local / Not Local

June 26 - August 29 at the Inside/Outside Gallery
From a design perspective, what do we really know about the Arab world or Iran? A window into these cultures, which use the Arabic script for writing and design, has opened at the Levantine Cultural Center, which is hosting the exhibtion LOCAL/NOT LOCAL, a modern collection of contemporary Arabic and Iranian typography and calligraphy at the Inside/Outside Gallery. The show opened June 26 and will be on view through August 29, 2014, with a closing event on Thursday, August 28th. Listen to a new podcast on "Local/Not Local" hosted by Arielle Zionts for Radio Tabbouli.
These days it seems like everyone's got a favorite font and a philosophy of typography. But it's not just our Roman alphabet that gets translated into different shapes—all over the world, designers pick and choose scripts to suit the occasion. In LOCAL/NOT LOCAL, co-curators Maece Seirafi and Pouya Jahanshahi present a collection of award-winning Arab and Iranian designers who demonstrate the creative possibilities and expressions that lurk in their native alphabets.

Levantine Cultural Center Testimonials 2013-2014

what people have said about us


"The Levantine Cultural Center continues to generate respect for Middle Eastern arts and culture in the U.S., specifically focusing on the wealth of Middle Eastern cultural arts already present in California, with the twin goals of building solidarity among peoples of diverse Middle East origins in Southern California and beyond and promoting understanding between Middle East peoples (roughly Afghanistan in the East to Morocco in the West) and mainstream Americans." —Barbara Al-Bayati, co-founder, Orphan Whispers

"The Levantine Cultural Center plays an important role in countering media bias and stereotyping against the Arab and Muslim community both in the US and overseas. By exposing its predominantly western audience to well-curated performances and cultural events that showcase the beauty and diversity of the Muslim world, the center is effective at building local community as well as changing minds and perceptions." —Ibrahim Alhusseini, venture capitalist,

"Over the years, the Levantine Cultural Center has been a consistent source of support and inspiration to the Arab/Muslim community in Southern California, and we here at CAIR Greater Los Angeles Area, wish to express our deep appreciation. The Center is an important resource that provides Americans with high-quality arts and educational programming that humanizes its participants, regardless of their background or heritage. From film, theatre, music, literary and arts programs to classes, workshops and public forums, the Center's programs create a safe space for exploration of potentially complex issues. We encourage everyone to plan a visit to the Levantine Cultural Center, and to lend it your support." —Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director, CAIR Greater Los Angeles 

Watercolor classes to "Paint Your Guts Out!"

classes run September 23-December 8, 2013

Whether you have some, little or no experience as an artist, Paint Your Guts Out! classes with artist G. Montine Blank are all about art-making and creative expression in workshops designed to help you discover how to easily access your creative flow, remove blocks and allow you to work spontaneously from the "zone." Paint Your Guts Out!© classes and workshops have been delivered to hundreds of individuals and private groups for enlightenment and inspiration since 2001. Testimonials.

Upcoming Classes are "Intuitive Watercolor Basics," 3 or 6 week series, Sep-Dec 2013; and "HeARTful Visionboard" series, 3 Sundays, Oct 2013. Take advantage of a special Levantine discount code, iArtLife2013, and save 20% off. Intuitive Watercolors series starts at $195. Manifest Artfully Visionboarding is $225. Register for classes online here, or call 323.413.2001 to register by phone. More info.

Yes, We Can Bridge Cultures and Build Peace, With Your Help!

Contribute to making this a better cultural arts center for Southern California!

Do you agree that the greater Los Angeles region should have a Middle Eastern/North African cultural arts center? Are you supportive of our mission to bridge cultures and build peace?

The Levantine Cultural Center champions a greater understanding of the Middle East & North Africa, presenting arts and education programs that help bridge political and religious divides. We are an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, serving the community since 2001. Our goal is to grow our active storefront into a multidisciplinary arts center that can better serve greater Los Angeles.



For inquiries, please contact Lulwa Bordcosh or Kameron Myles






[Los Angeles-January 24, 2013] From Feb. 2-March 15, the Levantine Cultural Center's Inside/Outside Gallery presents "The Art of Music" by Adnan Hussain. The multi-media exhibition, with an artist's reception on Feb. 2, 7-10 pm, and concert dates on Feb. 8 and Feb. 22, both at 8 pm, will feature Hussain's paintings, along with music and film inspired by the cultural heritage of Central and South Asia.

L.A. to Open First Multidisciplinary Center for the MENA

contact Amal Abdul Aziz


After over a decade of presenting arts and education programs in Southern California, the Levantine Cultural Center (LCC)—a 501c3 nonprofit organization that champions diverse cultures from Morocco to Afghanistan—has embarked on a 6-month campaign to raise $2 million. The Center will re-open in a new 10,000 square foot multidisciplinary space in January 2013. The LCC presents arts that promote inter-cultural dialogue and friendship, including film, theatre, music, art exhibits, author talks, classes and workshops.

Freedom Theatre West Meets at the LCC

Event Details
Jun 21 2012 1:30pm - 3:00pm
Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90035
Between La Cienega Blvd. & Fairfax
ample street parking
friends of theatre meet to discuss upcoming projects, all welcome

Freedom Theatre West is the first theatre company in Southern California devoted to the Middle East subject.

War and Peace, From Gaza to Los Angeles

a young activist speaks out on censored Palestinian children's art exhibit

In March 2009, I travelled to Gaza with an international peace delegation organized by CODEPINK, Women for Peace. Our mission was to witness the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, Israel's 22-day assault on Gaza and to celebrate International Women's Day with the women and children of Gaza. One of the most disturbing experiences occurred when we visited children's centers and saw their drawings of people being killed and wounded. They showed their homes destroyed, their family's olive trees uprooted, and planes and helicopters dropping bombs and white phosphorus. They drew images of their traumas that no children anywhere should ever have to experience.