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Fund-Raiser to Benefit Lula's Dancers

September 02, 2002|Diane Haithman

On Saturday when the members of Lula Washington Dance Theatre take the stage at the Orpheum Theater downtown, they'll be performing to put a new roof over their heads.

The company has been in a long-running legal battle with the city of Los Angeles and the Community Redevelopment Agency over the fate of its earthquake-damaged former studio on West Adams Boulevard. It wanted to rebuild, but the city had a pending development option on the property and, in the meantime, the dancers have been stuck in cramped rental space. Last spring, LWDT pooled federal funds originally earmarked for renovation of the old studio, and corporate and foundation grants--to the tune of about $1.5 million--to purchase and begin renovation on new digs on Crenshaw Boulevard.

Now, says company executive director Erwin Washington, Lula's husband, more money is required to get the onetime office building into move-in condition. The completed project will cost $500 million; the company hopes the fund-raiser will bring in about $20,000 to allow construction, halted due to lack of funds, to start up again. That money, however, will only last about three weeks: "$350,000 is what we need for raw, rough renovation; we can phase the rest in over time," Erwin Washington said. Saturday's program includes signature company works, appearances by Lula Washington's Youth Dance Ensemble and Young Drummers of Los Angeles.

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