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Koce Showcase : Arts Alliance Seeking Backers For Tv Series

May 30, 1986|HERMAN WONG | Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Arts Alliance has launched a search for private underwriters to back "Artscene," a television series that alliance organizers hope to begin airing next season over KOCE (Channel 50).

But "Artscene," which organizers say would cost about $100,000 for the first four shows, isn't the only major attempt at using KOCE as a showcase for the county's arts.

In March, the Huntington Beach public station announced that it was seeking $2.3 million for its Orange County Performing Arts Center series "Tonight, From the Pacific." The series, the station said, would present local programs on arts groups and personalities, in addition to nationally aired performances from the new arts complex.

Organizers of both projects maintain there is no real conflict between them in programming or fund raising.

Georgia Connolly, the alliance's "Artscene" coordinator, said: "We're not at odds; we have different approaches. Our approach is more varied; theirs is aimed more at the Arts Center itself."

Donald Gerdts, KOCE station manager, said, "It's not a conflicting situation, although some people might perceive it as such. It's a complementary situation, as far as we're concerned."

Both Gerdts and Connolly said a combining of the two projects was not being considered. "I see them as separate and valid endeavors and both very much needed in exploring the stunning growth of the arts here," Gerdts said.

But organizers of both projects have a common dilemma: Thus far, neither has announced any major private backers.

"Artscene" is an ambitious new venture for the Arts Alliance, the county's official planning and coordinating agency for the arts. The 400 alliance members represent key educational, governmental and corporate groups, as well as nearly all the county's exhibiting, performing and presenter organizations.

But the alliance's operating budget is still relatively modest, about $100,000 this year. The money comes from state grants and private donations and pays mostly for planning studies, organizational forums and professional workshops.

"Artscene" is an entirely new financial matter: the alliance's first major entry into television.

According to Connolly and Michele Weigand, alliance administrative director, each half-hour "Artscene" program will cost about $25,000 to produce. The aim is to air the first program sometime this fall over KOCE, with possible later broadcasting over cable television systems.

The California Arts Council, a state agency, has approved a $24,755 matching grant for "Artscene," Weigand said. To receive that grant, the alliance must raise an equal amount in private donations. To date, $5,000 has been raised, she said.

Formal solicitation is expected to begin soon, now that the "Artscene" pilot is ready to be screened for prospective donors, Weigand said.

Produced by public-television veterans Michele Costa and Claudia Bryan, the pilot includes profiles of Orange County painters Florence Arnold and Joachim (Vic) Smith. Also featured is a tour of sculpture sites in South Coast Plaza Town Center, including Isamu Noguchi's six-segment "California Scenario" and works by Carl Milles, Joan Miro and Henry Moore.

In addition to artist profiles, later "Artscene" installments may profile events or groups such as the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters or the St. Joseph Ballet Company in Santa Ana, Weigand said.

At KOCE, Gerdts said the station still hopes to announce private underwriters by early fall for the "Tonight, From the Pacific" series, one of the station's most venturesome and costly projects.

Financially beleaguered in recent years, the station, run by the Coast Community College District, has no money in the current $6-million budget to support the $2.3-million proposed series. A single corporate underwriter is sought to pay for the entire series, Gerdts said.

Production costs for "Tonight, From the Pacific" are $1.4 million for the PBS performance specials and $400,000 for the local programs, according to Gerdts. The remaining $500,000 is for overall promotion.

Taping of the first of three nationally aired performance specials from the Performing Arts Center may still take place this fall, said Gerdts. Airing of the first special by Public Broadcasting Service affiliates could then take place in March, 1987, he said.

The first of nine local programs is still expected to be aired Sept. 29, Gerdts said. This program, chiefly a live telecast of opening ceremonies at the Performing Arts Center, would include pre-taped interviews with Center leaders. All the local programs are to be off-stage features on personalities, programs and facilities at the Center.

KOCE has received a $15,000 grant from the Washington-based PBS to develop the national performance specials, Gerdts said.

Dale Bell, who produced the "Kennedy Center Tonight" PBS specials, is executive producer for the KOCE project.

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