By Zara Hurtado
Just a short drive from Cal Poly Pomona is Downtown Pomona, a neighborhood crawling with young people on any given weekend.
Artists spill out of galleries, couples hurry their way to nightclubs and aspiring photographers cross paths on the streets, all to the sounds of live music coming from The Glass House.
Years ago Pomona wouldn’t have been this busy.
The name “Pomona” was enough to wrinkle the noses of hip Los Angeles-goers yet here they are, flocking to the new “revitalized arts district” to get a taste of this exciting new art resurgence.
Confident throngs of college students pepper street corners, chalk art adorns the street and the district is lit with strings of light each night transforming the historic district into a budding art mecca.
Once run down brick buildings from the 1890s are now home to independent art galleries, music venues, breweries and studios.
Becky Kyles is a Pomona local and CPP alumni.
A graduate of the music industry studies program, Kyles began her involvement in downtown Pomona’s music scene by volunteering to book shows at Acerogami.
Eventually her weekend hobby turned into a full time gig as a talent buyer for the music venue.
“Every venue in the area brings something different,” Kyles said. “As far as the bars go, DBA was spearheading things and are still amazing but everyone has their own signature.”
“The scene has evolved a lot more with more local bands getting involved. At Acerogami we have a mix of things with a lot of touring bands, bands from L.A. and local bands.”
One local band that frequents the arts district is Headbed, an indie alternative band comprised of three CPP alumni.
“It’s amazing how much art can survive here,” said Adriana Roda-Stuart, who doubles as a member of Headbed and organizer at Acerogami. “it’s incredibly diverse here with a ton of different acts succeeding in a welcoming community.
That’s something you kind of lose when you go out to L.A. because it’s a bigger scene. Bands are more supportive of each other’s art here.”
That tight knit sense of community is a staple of downtown Pomona’s arts community which allows it to stand apart from its flashy counterparts in Los Angeles and neighboring Orange County.
In the past few years, downtown Pomona has built a reputation for itself, gaining credibility through successful music festivals such as Viva Pomona and Pomona Calling.
Both festivals were curated by Pomona locals and featured the best musical finds from the city’s own backyard.
Sam Smiley, another member of Headbed, strongly believes that the key to Pomona’s success is the accessibility and affordability of each show.
“Around Pomona, there are a lot of pay to play shows,” Smiley said. “You have to pay more to get into shows and it sets up a completely different environment, having so many free shows with such an active and competent scene go hand in hand.”
With a community whose central mission is “make good art and everything else will follow,” it isn’t surprising that acts from Los Angeles, Orange County and Riverside find themselves booking shows here.
While musicians flock to the area and the downtown center itself is gaining a reputation as a hot bed for up and coming musicians, it remains overshadowed by Pomona’s murkier past reputation, something Kyles hopes will change.
“The dream would be that people would just know that, ‘this place vibes with what I like,’ and come check it out,” Kyles explained “You’re going to take less of a chance on something you don’t know if you live far away, especially when weekends are so precious.”
Zara Hurtado / The Poly Post
Pomona based band, Shinobi Ghost performs in their downtown
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