California Club Site For Music Center Fund Party

July 10, 1985|DAVID JOHNSTON | Times Staff Writer

The Music Center, which has been trying vigorously to shed its image as an elitist institution, held its annual fund-raising victory party Monday night at the most elite private club in the Golden State.

The 1985 Music Center Unified Fund raised $44,000 more than its $8.5 million goal, which was $900,000 higher than last year's goal.

Roy A. Anderson, the Lockheed Corp. chairman who chaired the successful fund drive, hosted the party at the California Club, where nearly all of the estimated 1,200 members are white Christian males active in community affairs who are rich or powerful and usually both.

Women are not allowed as members and only in recent years has the California Club, prodded by some senior members, admitted 14 Jews and a few Latinos and Asians, club members have told The Times. There are no black members.

"I think it's a disservice when these things are pointed out," said Anderson, whose 29-member fund-raising cabinet had only one nonwhite, Tetsuo Arakawa, president of Nissan Motor Corp. in USA, according to a Performing Arts Council spokeswoman.

The victory party was at the California Club "because Roy wanted it here," said Esther Wachtell, a full-time volunteer who is the Music Center Unified Fund vice chairman.

Selecting the site for the victory party is the campaign chairman's prerogative, according to Wachtell and Michael Newton, the president of the Performing Arts Council, the Music Center's fund-raising arm. Last year's victory party was held at the downtown Bank of America tower and the 1983 party was at Security Pacific National Bank's headquarters tower, a Performing Arts Council spokeswomen said.

Anderson said he saw no incongruity between the Music Center's efforts to portray itself as welcoming Southern Californians of all races and creeds and his choice of the California Club for the party.

"This is just a place to have a meeting and give the final results," Anderson said. Anderson, who noted that Lockheed paid for the victory party, said he is a California Club member.

Asked if he thought "any reasonable person might be offended" by his choice of the California Club, Anderson replied: "Not at all. Absolutely not.

"As far as that goes, I've had blacks, Orientals--but I don't like to use those terms because they tend to separate people--here as my guests," Anderson said, adding, "I didn't mean to offend anybody."

Mayor Bradley's office does not hold functions at the California Club because it discriminates, his press secretary said. The Los Angeles County Bar Assn. doesn't hold meetings at the California Club because it discriminates, its spokesman said. Prince Philip of England refused to attend an Olympics-related meeting there for what his spokesman said was the same reason.

To encourage contributions, the Music Center Unified Fund used public-service announcements on television and print advertisements intended to portray it as welcoming all Southern Californians as donors as well as ticket buyers.

One print ad stated that "by making a contribution to the Music Center Unified Fund . . . you'll help guarantee that everyone, people from all ages, from all walks of life, will continue to enjoy the performances and the many community services offered by the Music Center."

Anderson announced the results in a California Club room where wives of members and other women guests are allowed to dine.

"It's the back of the bus," one of the Performing Arts Council's all-white fund-raising and public-relations staff members observed, smiling as she looked around at the marbled-and-mirrored walls before adding, "but what a bus."

Wachtell, the fund vice chairman, said, "what we've done is bring lots of blacks and Orientals and women (as victory-party guests), so we show change by example."

The Performing Arts Council staff counted two Asians and three blacks among the audience of just over 100 people. About half the audience was female.

Anderson revealed that the Music Center's two special events--the disastrous New Year's Eve party where hundreds of paying guests went hungry and the successful April 15 tribute to Edwin Lester, the Civic Light Opera Center founder--netted $150,000.

Newton, the Performing Arts Council president, said the New Year's Eve bash lost $25,000, excluding overhead costs.

Because the Mercado, an open-air market that netted $700,000 in 1984, was not held this year, Anderson needed to raise $1.6 million more than the 1984 drive.

Newton said that the $8.5 million has already been spent or committed for this year's performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Joffrey Ballet, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Music Center Opera Assn., Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum and the Performing Arts Council, the Music Center fund-raising arm.

The Civic Light Opera and the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre are self-sustaining.

The biggest increases in financial support, Anderson said, came from Japanese-owned businesses (known in Music Center parlance as "General Business II") headed by Nissan's Arakawa, and from the divisions soliciting retail firms, utilities and medical corporations. All posted 80% or greater increases in gifts over last year.

Newton said the "disappointments" were contributions from the savings and loan, real estate, construction and the entertainment industries, none of which reached the goals set for them despite what Newton described as "heroic" gifts by a few firms.

The 1985 Lincoln Continental Mark VII which the Performing Arts Council gave away to encourage donations was won by Donald Hudgens of Highland Park, who told the council he was currently unemployed after being laid off.

This year 13,500 people donated to the fund; 11,000 contributed last year, Newton said.

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