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Muckenthaler Center Faces Vote Today on Privatization

October 18, 1994|ZAN DUBIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

FULLERTON — The City Council is scheduled to vote today whether to begin transferring operation of the Muckenthaler Cultural Center from the city to a private foundation.

The financially strapped city has decreased its support of the center by about 30% during the past three years. Still, this year it will spend $260,000 for center operations and maintenance.

Under a contract to be considered today, responsibility for 50% of the operational costs would be transferred to the Muckenthaler Cultural Center Foundation board by 1997. The city would continue to pay for most center maintenance, repairs and insurance.

Acting center director Joe Felz, who predicts that the council will accept the contract, said "we anticipate entering into a longer contract after (1997), with the expectation of eventual total privatization, (although) the city will probably always insure the center and maintain the park" surrounding it.

The board, which sets policy and programming, began discussing privatization two years ago in the wake of the first city cutbacks and now contends it can better raise private funds if the center is privately run. The theory is that donors are more generous to institutions that lack city support or governance, according to Felz.

The contract would be effective Nov. 1 and specifies that "the center will be operated similar to past years, offering a variety of arts exhibitions, theater programs and fund raising events." The center was built in 1924 as an Italian Renaissance style home for Walter and Adella Muckenthaler, who donated the property to the city in 1965.

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