Overview of The Music Center Campus (Photo by Tim Street-Porter)
(Los Angeles) – On August 28, The Music Center joined with civic and community leaders to dedicate The Music Center Plaza, opening the newly renovated, accessible outdoor urban space and recognizing it as “The Plaza for All.” The event culminated a 20-month, $41 million renovation.
A roster of distinguished speakers, including Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor Hilda L. Solis (First District) and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl (Third District), The Music Center Board Chair Lisa Specht, The Music Center President & CEO Rachel Moore, Rios Clementi Hale Studios Principal Bob Hale, Border Grill Chef/Co-Owner Susan Feniger and Chief Anthony Morales and Andrew Morales of the Gabrieleno Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians, marked the occasion with a land acknowledgement and special ceremony. The event unveiled the Plaza as a principal public square for Los Angeles County, which provides a place where people can not only dine and gather, but also connect with friends and colleagues.
The Music Center’s Front Door Grand Ave Staircase (Photo by Tim Street-Porter)
“After nearly 20 years of imagining what The Music Center Plaza could be, our dream has finally become a reality,” said Lisa Specht, chair, The Music Center Board of Directors. “We are so grateful and appreciative of the steadfast support and critical funding from our partners, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and for the incredible generosity of our Plaza donors. The Plaza’s success speaks to the power of strong public-private partnership, which saw the creation of The Music Center in the mid-1960s and has now spearheaded the creation of a space—’the plaza for all’—to be a gathering place of pride for all Angelenos.”
During the event, more than 120 L.A.-based percussionists, representing the many faces, corners and cultures of the county, joined together in a robust performance that accompanied the official restart of The Music Center’s historic fountain. They were led by Gino Gamboa, a Music Center master teaching artist; Andrew Grueschow from Hands On’Semble; Malik Sow from Futa Toro West African Dance Ensemble; and Brian Yamami from TAIKOPROJECT. The event also featured the launch of two new 12′ x 20′ LED screens, which will be a distinctive platform for living video art.
The Music Center Plaza, View toward Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (Photo by Tim Street-Porter)
“The Music Center Plaza is a key component of the renovation plan for Downtown Los Angeles, securing Grand Avenue as a multicultural corridor and destination where L.A. County residents and visitors are welcome,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who represents the First District, which includes The Music Center. “The renovation of The Music Center Plaza encourages greater access and enables everyone to more fully experience the wide breadth and diversity of the arts, culture and music of L.A. County and the First District.”
Major funding for the $41 million Plaza capital project came from the County of Los Angeles, which provided $30 million. The Music Center has exceeded its $11 million capital campaign goal. Lead gifts were received from Lisa Specht, current chair of The Music Center, and vice chairs Robert J. Abernethy and Cindy Miscikowski and the Ring-Miscikowski Foundation/The Ring Foundation. Significant support was also received from The Blue Ribbon, Terri and Jerry Kohl, Marla and Cary Lefton, Merle and Peter Mullin, Mimi Song, Marie Song, Fredric Roberts and Eva and Marc Stern. Major grants were awarded by The Ahmanson Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and The Rose Hills Foundation.
Evening View of The Music Center Plaza (Photo by Tim Street-Porter)
“More than 55 years ago, Dorothy Buffum Chandler aimed to ‘democratize’ the arts by creating a place where the public can join together as a community through mutual appreciation of arts and culture,” explained Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center. “With this renovation, The Music Center Plaza is now a warm, inviting and active space where all people can play, learn, create and participate with wonder, curiosity and imagination, and, most importantly, feel right at home.”
The award-winning, Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary architecture and design firm, Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios) helmed the Plaza redesign. In its efforts to update the infrastructure and construct five new buildings—the Lisa Specht Welcome Center, permanent public restrooms and three dining locations (Abernethy’s, The Mullin Wine Bar and Go Get Em Tiger)—RCH Studios raised the Plaza to a single level and reconfigured the Grand Avenue stairs, which are now the Terri and Jerry Kohl Stairs, allowing for more open space during public events and performances. To create a “front door” for The Music Center on Grand Avenue, RCH Studios’ design broadened The Music Center’s pedestrian entry and added two escalators to take guests up from Grand Avenue to the Plaza.
The Plaza re-opening also included the relocation of the Jacques Lipchitz “Peace on Earth” sculpture, now located along Hope Street next to the Welcome Center in the Rose Hills Foundation Courtyard; and Robert Graham’s “Dance Door,” a bronze sculpture repositioned in The Fredric Roberts Garden adjacent to Go Get Em Tiger above Grand Avenue; as well as the restoration of four historic globe lighting fixtures, which now illuminate the Grand Avenue dining gardens.
As the first renovation of the Plaza since The Music Center opened in 1964, this major makeover makes the space more accessible to all guests while accommodating much larger capacities than previously possible. In fact, the 36,000 square-foot plaza re-design doubles the occupancy of the space from 2,500 to 5,000 people. The expanded infrastructure effectively creates a fifth venue for The Music Center campus, offering a new food destination and meeting spot, while also empowering the performing arts center to provide free and low-cost programming in the space. New casual gardens of California native and low-water evergreen plantings also complement the space, providing places to relax and enjoy beautiful vistas of Grand Park and the civic center.
Along with significant infrastructure improvements and improved ADA access, the Plaza renovation included the addition of a wide range of culinary options and price points. Abernethy’s, a full-service restaurant, will feature an innovative emerging chef program, with Top Chef finalist Shirley Chung as its inaugural chef; The Mullin Wine Bar serves wines hand-picked by L.A’s neighborhood wine shops and cocktails mixed by L.A.-based mixologists and provides an ever-changing food program with a “food truck in residence”; and Los Angeles-based third wave coffee bar Go Get Em Tiger will offer a range of coffees and food items. The new dining establishments complement two existing plaza level restaurants—Upstage Burger and Cocina Roja—which opened on the southeast and northeast sides of the Plaza respectively as construction began, bringing the total number of culinary choices on the Plaza to five.
The TMC Arts Fund
During the civic dedication event, Moore also announced a gift from Cindy Miscikowski and the Ring-Miscikowski/The Ring Foundation, which bestowed a $12 million gift to The Music Center to launch the TMC Arts Fund, which will broaden access to the arts for all communities of Los Angeles through public programs, education and dance. According to Moore, the TMC Arts Fund will, in part, support arts and culture experiences at the new Plaza.
“We are so grateful to Cindy Miscikowski and the Ring-Miscikowski/The Ring Foundation for their incredible generosity that will allow us to bring this beautiful Plaza to life,” Moore said. “We will focus on programs that bring people together in ways that enable them to discover their shared humanity, with an emphasis on events, concerts, activities and more that will be free to the public and that are relevant to and inclusive of the many communities and voices in the county.
Regardless of one’s cultural heritage, economic, social background or physical ability, The Music Center Plaza is welcoming all.” The Music Center has raised an additional $2 million for the fund, bringing the total to-date to $14 million, which nearly triples the original $5 million The Music Center committed to raise to support Plaza programming.
About The Music Center
The Music Center convenes artists, communities and ideas with the goal of deepening the cultural lives of every resident in Los Angeles County. The non-profit performing arts organization has two divisions: The Music Center Arts (TMC Arts) and The Music Center Operations (TMC Ops). TMC Arts, The Music Center’s programming engine, provides year-round programming inside The Music Center’s four theatres, on The Music Center Plaza, outside at Grand Park—a 12-acre adjacent green space—and in schools and other locations all over Los Angeles County. TMC Arts presents world-class dance with Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, free and low-cost public concerts and events, as well as K–12 arts education programs. TMC Ops manages the theatres, the Plaza and Grand Park on behalf of the County of Los Angeles. The Music Center is also home to four renowned resident companies—Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Master Chorale, LA Opera and LA Phil.
For more information, visit musiccenter.org
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Press Release Via: The Music Center