The Music Center Announces New TMC Arts Fund with $12 Million Gift to Broaden Access to the Arts for All in Los Angeles County
LOS ANGELES (August 28, 2019) – The Music Center today joined with civic and community leaders to dedicate The Music Center Plaza, opening the newly renovated, accessible outdoor urban space and recognizing it as “The Plaza for All.” The event culminated a 20-month, $41 million renovation. A roster of distinguished speakers, including Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor Hilda L. Solis (First District) and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl (Third District), The Music Center Board Chair Lisa Specht, The Music Center President & CEO Rachel Moore, Rios Clementi Hale Studios Principal Bob Hale, Border Grill Chef/Co-Owner Susan Feniger and Chief Anthony Morales and Andrew Morales of the Gabrieleno Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians, marked the occasion with a land acknowledgement and special ceremony. The event unveiled the Plaza as a principal public square for Los Angeles County, which provides a place where people can not only dine and gather, but also connect with friends and colleagues.
“After nearly 20 years of imagining what The Music Center Plaza could be, our dream has finally become a reality,” said Lisa Specht, chair, The Music Center Board of Directors. “We are so grateful and appreciative of the steadfast support and critical funding from our partners, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and for the incredible generosity of our Plaza donors. The Plaza’s success speaks to the power of strong public-private partnership, which saw the creation of The Music Center in the mid-1960s and has now spearheaded the creation of a space—‘the plaza for all’—to be a gathering place of pride for all Angelenos.”
During the event, more than 120 L.A.-based percussionists, representing the many faces, corners and cultures of the county, joined together in a robust performance that accompanied the official restart of The Music Center’s historic fountain. They were led by Gino Gamboa, a Music Center master teaching artist; Andrew Grueschow from Hands On’Semble; Malik Sow from Futa Toro West African Dance Ensemble; and Brian Yamami from TAIKOPROJECT. The event also featured the launch of two new 12’ x 20’ LED screens, which will be a distinctive platform for living video art.
“The Music Center Plaza is a key component of the renovation plan for Downtown Los Angeles, securing Grand Avenue as a multicultural corridor and destination where L.A. County residents and visitors are welcome,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who represents the First District, which includes the Music Center. “The renovation of The Music Center Plaza encourages greater access and enables everyone to more fully experience the wide breadth and diversity of the arts, culture and music of L.A. County and the First District.”
Major funding for the $41 million Plaza capital project came from the County of Los Angeles, which provided $30 million. The Music Center has exceeded its $11 million capital campaign goal. Lead gifts were received from Lisa Specht, current chair of The Music Center, and vice chairs Robert J. Abernethy and Cindy Miscikowski and the Ring-Miscikowski Foundation/The Ring Foundation. Significant support was also received from The Blue Ribbon, Terri and Jerry Kohl, Marla and Cary Lefton, Merle and Peter Mullin, Mimi Song, Marie Song, Fredric Roberts and Eva and Marc Stern. Major grants were awarded by The Ahmanson Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and The Rose Hills Foundation.
“More than 55 years ago, Dorothy Buffum Chandler aimed to ‘democratize’ the arts by creating a place where the public can join together as a community through mutual appreciation of arts and culture,” explained Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center. “With this renovation, The Music Center Plaza is now a warm, inviting and active space where all people can play, learn, create and participate with wonder, curiosity and imagination, and, most importantly, feel right at home.”
The award-winning, Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary architecture and design firm, Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios) helmed the Plaza redesign. In its efforts to update the infrastructure and construct five new buildings—the Lisa Specht Welcome Center, permanent public restrooms and three dining locations (Abernethy’s, The Mullin Wine Bar and Go Get Em Tiger)—RCH Studios raised the Plaza to a single level and reconfigured the Grand Avenue stairs, which are now the Terri and Jerry Kohl Stairs, allowing for more open space during public events and performances. To create a “front door” for The Music Center on Grand Avenue, RCH Studios’ design broadened The Music Center’s pedestrian entry andadded two escalators to take guests up from Grand Avenue to the Plaza. The Plaza re-opening also included the relocation of the Jacques Lipchitz “Peace on Earth” sculpture, now located along Hope Street next to the Welcome Center in the Rose Hills Foundation Courtyard; and Robert Graham’s “Dance Door,” a bronze sculpture repositioned in The Fredric Roberts Garden adjacent to Go Get Em Tiger above Grand Avenue; as well as the restoration of four historic globe lighting fixtures, which now illuminate the Grand Avenue dining gardens.
As the first renovation of the Plaza since The Music Center opened in 1964, this major makeover makes the space more accessible to all guests while accommodating much larger capacities than previously possible. In fact, the 36,000 square-foot plaza re-design doubles the occupancy of the space from 2,500 to 5,000 people. The expanded infrastructure effectively creates a fifth venue for The Music Center campus, offering a new food destination and meeting spot, while also empowering the performing arts center to provide free and low-cost programming in the space. New casual gardens of California native and low-water evergreen plantings also complement the space, providing places to relax and enjoy beautiful vistas of Grand Park and the civic center.
Along with significant infrastructure improvements and improved ADA access, the Plaza renovation included the addition of a wide range of culinary options and price points. Abernethy’s, a full-service restaurant, will feature an innovative emerging chef program, with Top Chef finalist Shirley Chung as its inaugural chef; The Mullin Wine Bar serves wines hand-picked by L.A’s neighborhood wine shops and cocktails mixed by L.A.-based mixologists and provides an ever-changing food program with a “food truck in residence”; and Los Angeles-based third wave coffee bar Go Get Em Tiger will offer a range of coffees and food items. The new dining establishments complement two existing plaza level restaurants—Upstage Burger and Cocina Roja—which opened on the southeast and northeast sides of the Plaza respectively as construction began, bringing the total number of culinary choices on the Plaza to five.
During the civic dedication event, Moore also announced a gift from Cindy Miscikowski and the Ring-Miscikowski/The Ring Foundation, which bestowed a $12 million gift to The Music Center to launch the TMC Arts Fund, which will broaden access to the arts for all communities of Los Angeles through public programs, education and dance. According to Moore, the TMC Arts Fund will, in part, support arts and culture experiences at the new Plaza. “We are so grateful to Cindy Miscikowski and the Ring-Miscikowski/The Ring Foundation for their incredible generosity that will allow us to bring this beautiful Plaza to life,” Moore said. “We will focus on programs that bring people together in ways that enable them to discover their shared humanity, with an emphasis on events, concerts, activities and more that will be free to the public and that are relevant to and inclusive of the many communities and voices in the county.
Regardless of one’s cultural heritage, economic, social background or physical ability, The Music Center Plaza is welcoming all.” The Music Center has raised an additional $2 million for the fund, bringing the total to-date to $14 million, which nearly triples the original $5 million The Music Center committed to raise to support Plaza programming.
The Music Center Plaza’s New Amenities
The new plaza design is a natural extension of the Grand Avenue Project and will greatly enhance the Grand Ave. Arts corridor with features that elevate the guest experience when seeing a performance, participating in public programming or enjoying new culinary delights. Five new buildings were constructed on the Plaza:
- Lisa Specht Welcome Center will now greet county residents, guests and the many tourists who visit The Music Center every day. A 6’ by 20’ interactive touch screen included in the Welcome Center’s breezeway will provide information and personalized guidance for visitors about the entire Music Center complex, its resident companies, performances, food options and members of The Music Center community. The Welcome Center, located adjacent to Hope Street, also will serve as the public point for valet parking.
- Abernethy’s, a new full-service restaurant seating 125 guests, will feature good eats, related and plated by rising Los Angeles chefs. As part of the Plaza restoration, The Music Center created Abernethy’s as a one-of-a-kind culinary arts adventure. Abernethy’s hosts a roster of emerging culinary artists with a new chef featured every quarter, offering an extended “pop-up” setting where diners enjoy an ever-changing culinary experience unlike anything in Los Angeles. These chefs were chosen by Abernethy’s Culinary Advisors, a team of highly respected chefs and tastemakers who identified the most talented emerging chefs from around Los Angeles County. As previously announced, Chef Shirley Chung will open Abernethy’s on Thursday, September 5, 2019, with her signature delicious take on contemporary Chinese-American cuisine. Abernethy’s subsequent emerging chefs, including Pla and Fern Kaewtathip, Geter Atienza, Justin Fullilove and Ryan Costanza, will create personalized dishes inspired by the diverse people and cultures that fill the heart of Los Angeles. With a neutral color palette of gray, green and blue featuring furnishings of Calcutta marble, polished brass and white oak, Abernethy’s is located on The Music Center Plaza adjacent to Hope Street. In addition, as part of its commitment to the community, The Music Center and Abernethy’s are working with Los Angeles County’s Workforce Development Aging and Community Services (WDACS) agency, which provides resources and services to help individuals seeking employment and enhance their existing careers, to have graduates of WDACS Veteran’s Culinary Arts Program employed at Abernethy’s. The restaurant is also partnering with Chrysalis, a 35-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals to find and retain employment. Working with Chrysalis Staffing, Abernethy’s will hire Chrysalis clients on a temporary or temporary-to-permanent basis as kitchen staff as these individuals transition toward rejoining the workforce. Additionally, Abernethy’s will mentor interns from the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s new culinary arts training program.
- The Mullin Wine Bar serves specialty wines curated by neighborhood wine shops, muddles cocktails created by local mixologists and offers a rotating array of dishes provided by some of Los Angeles’ most popular food trucks. As previously announced, The Mullin Wine Bar’s inaugural mixologist is celebrated Los Angeles bartender Christiaan Röllich from a.o.c. and Lucques and author of Bar Chef: Handcrafted Cocktails. With glass walls that fully open onto the Plaza’s westside and out to The Blue Ribbon Garden, The Mullin Wine Bar offers visitors a broad selection of California wines in a sleek, sophisticated setting. Featuring a sleek, architectural palette with dark Armani marble, textured wallcovering and dark rich walnut wood with brass accents, The Mullin Wine Bar is located adjacent to Grand Avenue.
- Go Get Em Tiger (GGET)’s newest location is on The Music Center Plaza. The third wave coffee bar features world-class roasts and innovative food items to sate every caffeinated craving. With glass walls that fully open onto the Plaza, as well as onto The Fredric Roberts Garden, GGET features a white Carrara marbled coffee house where visitors can order and be served along an expansive bar. Incorporating white oak, blackened steel and customized gray concrete tile, GGET is located adjacent to Grand Avenue.
- The plaza redesign now offers permanent public restrooms in a new building located on the Plaza on the Hope Street side adjacent to The Music Center’s Mark Taper Forum. The restrooms feature an open-air handwashing station with views of the garden.
- As a new focal point on the Plaza above both the Welcome Center and Abernethy’s, two new 12’ x 20’ LED screens, equipped with sensors and cameras, provide the opportunity to create “art” on the Plaza through multiple, interactive experiences that incorporate people and movement throughout the space. Imagined by the artists of Music Center partners yU+co, the LED screens feature live feeds, machine learning and various filters to create displays such as the “Living Canvas,” visualizing the outdoor space in the painterly style of world-renown artists, and the “Plaza Fountain,” illustrating a vibrant and colorful abstract representation of the fountain’s dancing jets of water. Plaza visitors will also be able to generate their own living video art in realistic or abstract ways as their movement and actions on the Plaza become reflected on the LED screens. These screens also will be used for live events, simulcasts, programming information and more.
The Music Center Plaza Grand Opening Festivities/Public Celebration
The public is welcome to celebrate the opening of The Music Center Plaza at several free public events:
- Thursday, August 29, 2019: 4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
Block Party: Go Get Em Tiger and The Mullin Wine Bar/Grand Openings
Both Go Get Em Tiger and The Mullin Wine Bar will host special grand openings with music, games and special treats for Grand Avenue residents, businesses and neighbors in Downtown Los Angeles.
- Friday, August 30, 2019: 7:00 p.m.–midnight
The Music Center’s Dance DTLA: Cumbia
The Music Center will bring its highly popular, free Dance DTLA back to its Plaza “home” to celebrate the official grand opening of The Music Center Plaza. Dance lovers will enjoy an evening of Cumbia under the summer stars with beginner dance lessons, followed by extended hours of dancing and music until midnight. This evening of The Music Center’s Dance DTLA is made possible with support by Bank of America. The Music Center’s Dance DTLA series is generously funded by Cindy Miscikowski and The Ring-Miscikowski Foundation/The Ring Foundation and the Marcia Israel Foundation.
- Saturday, August 31, 2019: 4:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m.
Plaza for All Celebration featuring Los Angeles Master Chorale’s Big Sing 2019
4:00 p.m. Event begins in Grand Park
5:00 p.m. Procession from Grand Park to the Plaza
6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Big Sing 2019
The Music Center is partnering with Los Angeles-based LA Commons, which engages communities in artistic and cultural expression, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Music Center’s longest-standing resident company, for a big community celebration of the Plaza. Complete with singing, music, dance and visual art, the Plaza for All Celebration will invite Angelenos to commemorate and embrace the new public space as the county’s “plaza for all.” The free event will include a public procession featuring performers and members of the many communities that comprise all five districts of Los Angeles County, with the event commencing at Grand Park and culminating at The Music Center Plaza. The celebration will continue in a giant sing-along as the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s annual Big Sing event brings thousands together as one community to sing popular songs under the direction of Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director, and special guest conductors. Food will be available for purchase from local food trucks. The Plaza for All Celebration is made possible with support from The Grand. Big Sing 2019 is made possible by generous support from The Lovelace Family Trust, Terri and Jerry Kohl, and Philip A. Swan.
- Sunday, September 1, 2019: Noon–6:00 p.m.
The Music Center’s Splish Splash Plaza Bash
All are welcome as The Music Center Plaza becomes a free, fun casual hangout on a long holiday weekend. The newly renovated space will be transformed into a giant, fun backyard party filled with free games and activities, splashing in The Music Center fountain, great food and a live broadcast on the giant LED screens of the Los Angeles Dodgers away game. Abernethy’s first five emerging chefs will be on hand preparing and selling their individual versions of backyard bites and treats.
- Thursday, September 5, 2019: 5:00 p.m.
Abernethy’s: Grand Opening
Abernethy’s grand opening menu features the cultural creations of Shirley Chung, Top Chef alum andthe restaurant’s inaugural chef. Abernethy’s features a one-of-a-kind emerging chef program in which a group of legendary chefs and tastemakers from L.A., Abernethy’s Culinary Advisors identified the most talented rising chefs in Los Angeles. Chefs Govind Armstrong, Susan Feniger, Ray Garcia, Curtis Stone and Niki Nakayama, joined other tastemakers to explore and taste their way around the region, looking for young entrepreneurs who would bring a fresh perspective that reflects the diversity of Los Angeles to downtown’s newest restaurant.
More information about the Plaza renovation can be found at musiccenter.org/plaza.
About The Music Center
The Music Center convenes artists, communities and ideas with the goal of deepening the cultural lives of every resident in Los Angeles County. The non-profit performing arts organization has two divisions: The Music Center Arts (TMC Arts) and The Music Center Operations (TMC Ops). TMC Arts, The Music Center’s programming engine, provides year-round programming inside The Music Center’s four theatres, on The Music Center Plaza, outside at Grand Park—a 12-acre adjacent green space—and in schools and other locations all over Los Angeles County. TMC Arts presents world-class dance with Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, free and low-cost public concerts and events, as well as K–12 arts education programs. TMC Ops manages the theatres, the Plaza and Grand Park on behalf of the County of Los Angeles. The Music Center is also home to four renowned resident companies—Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Master Chorale, LA Opera and LA Phil. For more information, visit musiccenter.org. Follow The Music Center on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @MusicCenterLA.
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