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L.a. Festival To Bypass County Sites : County Sites Unlikely For Arts Festival

April 20, 1985|HERMAN WONG | Times Staff Writer

Failure to raise monies from Orange County-based corporations has for the time being ruled out Orange County as a site for the 1987 Los Angeles Festival, according to Robert J. Fitzpatrick, president of the group formed to organize the $8-million cultural event.

Fitzpatrick, who is to direct the projected four-week Olympic Arts-styled event, said this week that the unsuccessful solicitations in Orange County were due to competing local cultural drives, especially for the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

In the Orange County Center drive, $85.5 million is being sought--all in private monies--for the construction and maintenance of the multifacility complex, now being built in Costa Mesa and set to open in the fall of 1986.

Earlier this week, Los Angeles Festival officials won fiscal backing from two crucial sources: a $2-million contribution from the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee and a $1-million challenge grant from the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. And Times Mirror Co. has announced a $500,000 contribution to the festival.

"Our initial target (for Orange County) was $1 million," said Fitzpatrick, who personally made some of the overtures to Orange County-based firms. "But given the thrust of that (Orange County Center) campaign, the general feeling is that it's just too difficult at this time to raise funds (for the Los Angeles Festival).

"At this point, without having the substantial additional support from Orange County, it's difficult for us to even explore the idea of (festival) locations there."

There had been much talk about involving Orange County, including the Orange County Performing Arts Center, in such a festival. When the Blue Ribbon Committee for a Second Festival met last fall to consider an Olympics Arts-styled festival, Orange County was considered a strong prospect. One reason was that William Lund, the Orange County Center's board president, served on that panel, which was formed by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and chaired by Fitzpatrick.

This week, Fitzpatrick left the door ajar for Orange County involvement. "We're not excluding the possibility of Orange County participation by any means," he said, adding, "we had hoped--and we still hope--that the international and national corporations based in Orange County will consider this festival an exciting and appropriate vehicle to support."

The $85.5-million Orange County Center campaign is far from over. To date, about $45 million has been raised for construction, plus $16 million for an endowment fund (to be used to maintain the complex). Center officials have also said that once the complex is opened, an additional $4 million a year will have to be raised to operate the complex and to underwrite the complex's presentations.

At the same time, South Coast Repertory Theatre and other major Orange County arts organizations--including those seeking to perform or present concerts at the Orange County Center's 3,000-seat multipurpose theater--are accelerating their fund-raising efforts.

Another key factor for ruling out Orange County for now, Fitzpatrick said, is a site stipulation in the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency's challenge grant: that the "primary focus" of the festival be downtown Los Angeles.

Related to that is a logistics factor, Fitzpatrick said, explaining that "the more spread the time involved and the more dispersed the locations, then the more difficult and expensive it will be to mount the festival."

Much the same argument was applied in producing last summer's $10-million Olympic Arts Festival. The 10-week festival, directed by Fitzpatrick, was primarily held in central Los Angeles. The Newport Harbor Art Museum in Orange County was one of only three Olympic Arts sites outside of Los Angeles County (the others were the UC Santa Barbara gallery and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art).

In their announcement earlier this week, Bradley and Fitzpatrick said the first Los Angeles Festival (envisioned as a biennial event) will be held in September, 1987. They said internationally known attractions, comparable with those in the Olympic Arts Festival, will be sought in the next few months.

The city redevelopment agency's $1-million challenge is based on one other key stipulation: that an additional $3 million be raised from other sources. The Olympic committee, through the Amateur Athletic Foundation, will be using surplus monies from last year's Summer Games for its $2-million contribution.

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