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County to help build new arts center at Cal State Northridge

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will contribute $2 million from capital projects budget for the 1,700-seat, $100-million facility.

June 14, 2007|Susannah Rosenblatt | Times Staff Writer

Hoping to create a new San Fernando Valley landmark, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky is scheduled today to boost county support of a new, $100-million performing arts center at Cal State Northridge.

Yaroslavsky will contribute $2 million in taxpayer money from his district's share of the county's capital projects budget.

The 1,700-seat venue will operate in partnership with the county-owned Music Center downtown, which includes the Center Theater Group and the Los Angeles Opera. The collaboration, still in its early stages, could mean shared performances or expanded arts education at the Cal State campus.

"This will raise the level of cultural and artistic performance in the Valley significantly," said Yaroslavsky, a longtime supporter of the arts. He likened the new performing arts center's potential effect on the Valley to Walt Disney Concert Hall's revitalization of downtown Los Angeles.

Yaroslavsky contributed $1 million from his office-holder account to help complete construction of Disney Hall.

The new complex, to open in 2009, would be the largest such venue in the San Fernando Valley.

Today's announcement offers a "major signal that this project is going to be a reality," said Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester.

The new center follows the long-defunct Valley Music Center in Woodland Hills, which once housed a 2,700-seat theater-in-the-round. After it went bankrupt, it was sold and converted to a Jehovah's Witness assembly hall in the late 1970s.

The Northridge arts venue will include a performance hall, studio theater, broadcast studios, rehearsal space, lecture hall and an art gallery.

More than $50 million for the arts center -- which can double as an academic facility for college students and potentially hold programs with the Los Angeles Unified School District -- will come from a state education bond. Private supporters have either donated or pledged more than $15 million.

The university has raised about two-thirds of the funds needed for the center's construction. Groundbreaking is scheduled for this fall.

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susannah.rosenblatt@latimes.com

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