Barbecue Builds on Community

The popular band Seize the Night entertained guests at the annual summer cookout.


On Saturday, Aug. 24, the McGroarty Arts Center held its 4th Annual Summer Cookout. All were invited for a night of food, drinks, music and fun to benefit the Center. The McGroarty Arts Center is a non-profit organization and is completely self-funded. It relies on successful fundraisers like the cookout to achieve its goals of providing affordable arts and music programs to the community. A community icon, McGroarty comes from humble beginnings.

John McGroarty was a young journalist and politician, and his wife Ida was a schoolteacher. Both were from Pennsylvania. They found their way to Los Angeles in 1901 where John’s career as a journalist prospered. He became a major editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times and took up playwriting. He served two terms as a member of the United States Congress and fought for restoring historical and cultural monuments and reforestation in California.

Ida McGroarty was a costume and stage designer for some of her husband’s plays and traveled to Spain and Old Mexico to further understand the cultural aspect of much of his works. She died on the May 13, 1940; John died on Aug. 7, 1944.

After his death, the City of Los Angeles, Dept. of Recreation and Parks bought his home and the land it resided on and restored it and dedicated it as the John Steven McGroarty Memorial Archive Library, which now serves as the McGroarty Arts Center.

McGroarty’s legacy carries on today through the work of diligent and dedicated volunteers. Austina Bosco is one of the board members of the McGroarty Arts Center who has been volunteering there for 15 years.

“The community is so important,” Bosco said. “Our mission is to provide affordable arts and music for the community and beyond. This is a barbecue for the community to socialize and listen to music.”

Honoring community, and the familial aspect of the barbecue, was evident at the cookout. Not a single chair was empty and not a single person sat alone. It was evident that everyone felt welcome.

Holding an event of this size, which included live music by the band Seize the Night, was a joint effort with everyone contributing.

“Fundraisers like this pay our teachers and [pay for] supplies, which is why donations are so important,” Bosco said.

Even her daughter, Willow, has volunteered and contributed to the McGroarty mission since she was 4 years old.

Another one of the devoted helpers was Laurelle Geils who first started working at McGroarty in 1995.

Because of the many volunteer hours donated, a variety of programs are offered at a low cost. Some classes that will be offered this fall include piano for all ages starting at 7 years old, ceramics for teens, ukulele for adults, and expressive art for ages 3-7 and 8-11. Prices range from $65-$140 for members and $80-$190 for non-members.    

McGroarty Arts Center is located at 7570 McGroarty Terrace in Tujunga. For more information, call  (818) 352-5285 or visit