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LA Philanthropists Give $10 Million to New SMC Theater

By Lookout Staff

March 7 -- Los Angeles philanthropists and arts patrons Eli and Edythe Broad announced Thursday that they had given $10 million to create an endowment for programming and arts education at the new Santa Monica College performing arts center. (Link to video of press conference)

In honor of the gift from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the new modernist steel, stone, glass and wood performing arts center at 1310 11th Street will be named The Broad Stage and The Edye Second Space.

“The Los Angeles area is home to so many great arts institutions, and now it will be home to the premiere performing arts center on the Westside,” Broad said during a press conference attended by nearly 200 supporters of the theater. (Remarks Made by Eli Broad)

“We’re looking forward to having a world-class theater with plenty of parking and quality programming right here in our own backyard,” said Broad, who lives in neighboring Brentwood.

The endowment will be used to present renowned artists and world-class operas, symphonies, musicals, dance companies, film and theater at the The Broad Stage, an intimate 499-seat state-of-the-art theater that will open on September 20.

“We need to ensure the sustainability of our city' s cultural offerings, and this endowment will enable The Broad Stage to have the necessary resources to maintain first-rate performances for the public," Broad said.

The Broad Stage and The Edye Second Space are part of the school’s tradition of community service, providing programming, master classes and special events for the public as well as for the K-12 and college levels, Board said.

Designed by Santa Monica architect Renzo Zecchetto, The Broad Stage -- which was built with a variable proscenium and a stage comparable to theaters four times the size -- combines the intimacy of a small theater with the acoustics and staging of a grand hall, said Dale Franzen, the theater’s artistic director, who led the fundraising drive.

An adjacent black box theater, The Edye Second Space is a simple and flexible performance space that allows for readings, plays and other small-audience offerings, college officials said. Artists can come to The Edye to introduce new material or to experiment with dramatic, musical and dance performances.

“Our public trust here is to deliver for our educational community and for our public community a world class theater – a global theater – capable of filling our lives with insight, understanding, emotion, and discovery,” said Santa Monica College President Dr. Chui L. Tsang.

“Our public trust here – at least here, if not elsewhere – is to reverse decades of declining financial support for the arts in order to improve arts education opportunities for this and future generations of students and audiences,” Tsang said.

"This performing arts center is a community 'service' of Santa Monica College, and we are proud to have a global theater befitting our identity as a world leader in education," he said.

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky called The Broad Stage “yet another of our county's great cultural riches.”

Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman, who now chairs The Broad Stage' s artistic advisory board, thanked the Broads for their support of the arts.

"Without people like the Broads, we wouldn't have the commissioned work of Mozart and Bach and Beethoven and so many of the great painters," Hoffman said. "How they use their capital is commendable."

The idea for the performing arts center goes back a decade to a dinner party at the home of former SMC President Piedad Robertson attended by the Broads, Hoffman and former opera singer Franzen.

The Broads became involved in the project last year after seeing the innovative complex under construction along Santa Monica Boulevard, Broad said.

“Usually, our involvement comes in the early stages of a project, before a building is built,” Broad said. “But this time, the building was already well underway, and so I told Dale we wanted to ensure that this new performing arts center would have the resources for first-rate performances.”

This is the first performing arts center the couple has allowed to be named after them.

"Edye loves the theater," said Broad, "and after 53 years of marriage, I wanted to honor her by naming the second space The Edye. "

The $45 million Broad Stage and The Edye Second Space were financed with a $35 million bond measure passed by the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu in 2004, $5 million from private donors and a 2002 bond measure for Santa Monica College improvements passed in 2002.

"The endowment created by the Broads has given our artistic vision a solid future, and it allows us to bring the very best artists and performances to the Westside,” Franzen said. “We expect, however, that our audiences will come from across Southern California to participate in a truly unique performing arts experience."

The Broad Foundations were established by entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts. The Broad Foundations, which include The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and The Broad Art Foundation, have assets of $2.5 billion. For more information visit BroadFoundation.org.

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“We need to ensure the sustainability of our city' s cultural offerings." Eli Broad


“Our public trust here is to deliver for our educational community and for our public community a world class theater." Dr. Chui L. Tsang


"Without people like the Broads, we wouldn't have the commissioned work of Mozart and Bach and Beethoven and so many of the great painters." Dustin Hoffman.


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