While the $19.7-million makeover is underway, the dancers and musicians who usually hold sway at the 1,196-seat county-owned outdoor theater in Hollywood will fan out to other, as yet undetermined venues around Los Angeles County.
"We will be taking the Ford on the road," said Laura Zucker, director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the government agency that operates the amphitheater.
The stage's current elevated back tier is concrete, the front has plywood surfacing on top of concrete, and the stage tilts downward toward the audience to help rainwater slide off. Zucker said the replacement stage will still be two-tiered, a feature performance companies like, but it will be all wood, with no concrete and no downward slope.
The coming project will be the second phase in a step-by-step improvement plan for the Ford, which sits on the opposite side of Cahuenga Boulevard from the Hollywood Bowl, another county-owned venue that's much bigger and more famous, but not much older. The Ford opened in 1931, 10 years after the Hollywood Bowl.
Unlike the Bowl, a magnet for some of the biggest stars of classical and pop music, the Ford has a communitarian agenda that features performers who aren't household names.
The idea is to help newer and less renowned groups acclimate themselves to performing in a venue of more than 1,000 seats, where they can reach bigger audiences and become better known.
She said the production budget for the traveling 2015 season will be about $750,000 -- the same amount the county would have provided at the Ford.
The $19.7-million expenditure by the county follows a $7.5-million initial phase in 2012-13 that included installing new seats, repairing leaks and addressing other wear-and-tear issues. But it was timed to avoid losing a summer season.
The Arts Commission plans to seek the project’s first official blessing soon from the
Because it's in a county park, Zucker said, the arts venues could qualify for special funds reserved for park development.
LACMA has rolled out a tear-down-and-rebuild plan encompassing more than 400,000 square feet of galleries, and its director, Michael Govan, recently said that he hoped the county, which would own the new structure, can provide about $100 million toward its estimated $500-million construction cost. The Music Center has big-dollar capital plans focusing on remaking its plaza and improving the 50-year-old Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, including expanding a limited backstage that has posed problems for its main tenant, Los Angeles Opera.
With big plans also afoot for the Ford, one possible avenue to raise hundreds of millions of dollars could be to package proposed improvements at county-owned venues and put the question of funding them to voters in a bond election comparable to one that took place in 2002.
Almost 61% of the voters said yes -- a landslide in the vast majority of states, but a defeat in California, which requires a two-thirds majority to approve tax-backed bonds (except for public education bonds, which need 55% of the vote).
Zucker said she hasn’t heard any talk yet about a bond issue for looming cultural needs. Outgoing Supervisor