Latino partnership may triumph in contest for Theater Center

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake “If nothing else, this has been an informative roller-coaster ride,” said Tom Gilmore, a developer known for his downtown loft projects. “Which turn it takes now will be anybody’s guess.” The city report released Friday pleased Jose Luis Valenzuela, artistic director for the nonprofit Latino Theater Company. “I’m very, very excited that the recommendation came for the Latino Theater Company,” he said. “It’s been a very long process, but an important one.” The city called in 2003 for a new operator to take over the four-stage complex located in a 1916 bank building. What ensued was a lengthy process that involved political wrangling, complex funding questions, nasty accusations thrown back and forth, and a trip back to the drawing board. The City Council started the process again this spring, leading to the current bids. A partnership between a local theater company and museum gained ground Friday in a long-running contest to win control of the Los Angeles Theater Center. City analysts recommended that the Latino Theater Company and Latino Museum be granted a lease to operate the downtown performing arts facility. Now the City Council will decide between the theater company’s bid and that of Gilmore & Associates, a real estate development firm that has teamed with a different theater ensemble on a proposal of its own. Both sides have pledged to spend about $4 million renovating the city-owned building and to put on a diverse slate of productions. Gilmore & Associates, in conjunction with theatrical ensemble Will and Co., has offered a plan that includes four year-round theater series as well as educational programs, conference space, a bistro and art gallery. The Latino Theater Company proposes four nine-month dramatic series, art and theater educational programming, and space devoted to the Latino Museum of History, Art and Culture. The Latino Theater Company/Museum partnership has secured $4 million in grant money from the state Cultural Historical Endowment and another $50,000 from the Ford Foundation. Gilmore & Associates plans to pay a similar amount for renovations with its own money. The city report released Friday acknowledges “many similarities among the commitments from the respondents,” as well as their mutual lack of experience operating a theater. However, analysts wrote that they favor the Latino Theater Company because both it and the Latino Museum have established boards with a joint operating agreement in place for the new project. The report also points to the Latino Theater Company’s procurement of commitment letters from several theatrical production companies, as well as its state funding. While the process has drawn attention for its cultural and social implications, there is a political dimension as well, one that may gain more prominence now that the issue is headed to the City Council. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently nominated Moctesuma Esparza, the chairman of the Latino Theater Company’s board, to the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System board. Gilmore was a supporter of former Mayor James Hahn. The issue next goes to the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, although a hearing date has not yet been set. Dan Laidman, (213) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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