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Lou Moore departs as head of Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Lou Moore departs as head of Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills

The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, which only recently completed its inaugural season, confirmed Thursday that Executive Director Lou Moore has left the fledgling arts organization.

Moore, who spent more than a decade raising money to construct the new center and then led its 2013 opening and first season, left the organization on Tuesday.

Company leaders declined to explain the circumstances surrounding her departure, except to say that there were multiple reasons.

Moore said that her departure was due to a difference in the overall vision for programming at the Wallis.

In an interview, the center's board chairman Jerry Magnin said that "Lou did a fantastic job of getting us to where we are." He later added that running the center after its opening required "totally different responsibilities. The pressures on both sides change." 

Leadership shifts "like this are difficult. And you want to get all your pieces in place," he said.

When reached for comment, Moore said in an e-mail statement that "upon completing our successful first season, it is clear there is a differing vision for the programming of the Wallis."

She said the board would like to move to a schedule that relies more on "presenting" rather than having the Wallis continue "producing" original material. 

"I respect the board's vision just as they respected mine in the 14-year journey we undertook to create  a new home for the arts," she said.

Moore said by phone that she was unable to elaborate on her statement at this time. Patricia Wolff, who has served as the company's artistic associate, has assumed the role of interim artistic director. 

Since 2000, Moore has worked to raise the tens of millions of dollars needed to construct the center, which is the first of its kind in Beverly Hills.

The Wallis opened in the fall of 2013, and sits on Santa Monica Boulevard, near Canon Drive. Philanthropist Wallis Annenberg made an initial gift to the organization of $15 million, followed by a second gift of $10 million.

The total cost of creating the center is estimated at $70 million, with an annual operating budget of several million dollars. The complex features the renovated and expanded historic Beverly Hills post office, which was transformed by Zoltan Pali of the SPF architectural firm.

The company's leadership is currently "in flux, but not disarray," said Donna Ellman Garber, a board member and a former mayor of Beverly Hills, in a separate interview. "Lou did a fantastic job for years putting it together."

When asked whether Moore stepped down voluntarily, Garber said, "these types of decisions are usually mutual."

Moore is a veteran of the L.A. cultural scene, having previously served as the managing director of the Geffen Playhouse, where she worked closely with the late Gil Cates. A Geffen spokesman said that Moore worked at the theater from 1995 to 2000.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT

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