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VALLEY FOCUS | Canoga Park

Theater Lobby Given Name of Benefactors

May 20, 1998|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously agreed to name the lower lobby of the newly restored Madrid Theatre after two prominent residents who have worked to bring art and culture to the San Fernando Valley.

The foyer of the theater will be named the "Herbert F. (Bert) and Jane Boeckmann II Lobby," after the owners of Galpin Ford for their contributions to the facility.

"[Jane] worked very hard, put [in] a lot of time, energy and fund-raising to construct a cultural theater for the San Fernando Valley," said Councilwoman Laura Chick, who represents the area in which the theater is located and who introduced the motion for the name dedication.

Although much of Jane Boeckmann's early efforts were focused on building a new center on sites in the Sepulveda Basin, her attention later shifted to the refurbishment of the 500-seat Madrid.

City officials said they did not yet know precisely how much the Boeckmanns have donated or helped raise for the project, which will cost $3.5 million.

Chick noted that the couple sponsored a performance of the play "Love Letters" in January featuring Chick and Mayor Richard Riordan. That show raised more than $300,000.

The Boeckmanns could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

After an audience member questioned the wisdom of revitalizing a live theater in an area known more for its pawnshops than for its cultural centers, the debate at the council meeting turned into a discussion of the merits of the project.

Though the movie house, built in the 1920s, was a popular venue for silent and mainstream films, its most recent incarnation was as an X-rated cinema.

Through a share of a $30-million earthquake recovery grant, the city is restoring the building, trying to put a new polish on its tarnished past and revitalize the neighborhood at the same time.

Council members stood firmly by the project, calling it an inspiration for others in the city.

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