Although the Irvine City Council and UC Regents have approved the project--and a general manager has been recruited--the formal go-ahead for construction of a $9.5-million, 750-seat performing arts theater on the UC Irvine campus has been delayed.
Officials said site-lease and other documents were still to be signed by UC and city representatives. "It's a matter of formalities, dotting the i's and crossing the t's. Everything's ready, but it's taking longer than expected on the legal technicalities," said one official who asked not to be identified.
However, officials still maintain that construction could start next spring on the venture, now known as the Irvine City Theatre. The city is financing the entire construction with municipal bonds, while UC has donated the 2 1/2-acre site in the campus's Gateway Plaza.
But the longer delay in final transactions has meant postponement of the ceremonial launching of a $6-million endowment drive for the campus project as well as the formal hiring of the general manager.
According to sources, Douglas C. Rankin, former executive director of the city-run performing and visual arts program in Woodstock, Ill., has been picked for the Irvine post. Rankin served in the Woodstock post the past 10 years, based at the 450-seat Woodstock Opera House (Woodstock is 50 miles northwest of Chicago).
Rankin, 37, who previously served two years as executive director of the Civic Arts Center in Walnut Creek, Calif., was one of 20 candidates considered by the Irvine City Theatre's operating board.
Although the Irvine operating board has refused to confirm Rankin's selection, sources said he has worked in the Irvine theater company's office since Sept. 8 on a consultant basis.
The operating board--a nine-member body of city, campus and community representatives--hopes to raise $6 million in private donations for the operating endowment. Initially, the theater's operational costs, expected to be about $600,000 a year, are to be paid by the city and university.
City-booked attractions at the campus theater are expected to include such local performing groups as the Irvine Symphony and Irvine Community Theater, plus others representing the Irvine Unified School District and Irvine Valley College.
Also under consideration are organizations outside of Irvine, such as the South Coast Repertory's children's theater program, Ballet Pacifica and South Coast Symphony. Corporate-sponsored conferences are another booking possibility.
Under the present agreement, the university will have use of the theater one-third of the time. Among the projected bookings are UCI's own drama and musical productions, plus presentations of guest lecturers and touring soloists and ensembles.