Volunteers and Cities Both Play Roles : A Collection of Arts Workers

The new Arts Council of Torrance has good company in the South Bay, where several groups promote the arts.

For example, a few years ago on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the late Agnes Moss--a community volunteer and art collector who had moved from the East Coast to Rancho Palos Verdes--organized the Community Assn. of the Peninsula, better known as CAP. The group went on to raise $3 million from foundations, the business community and residents and built the 451-seat Norris Community Theatre in the Peninsula Center area.

About 80% of the time, the Norris is home to local orchestral, ballet, choral and theater groups. But it also has presented such big-name entertainers as Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, Sarah Vaughan, the Kingston Trio and Burl Ives, as well as the Oregon Shakespeare Company. The San Francisco Opera touring company is presenting “La Boheme” this fall. “The theater is fully booked,” said managing director Michael Putnam.

“If there were no CAP, there would be no (Norris) theater, period,” said De De Hicks, the group’s president. “The arts need people to come together and make it happen.”


Palos Verdes Arts Group

Another group of arts advocates is the Palos Verdes Community Arts Assn., which was founded in 1931 to promote appreciation and expression of the arts. Today it operates a three-building complex in Rancho Palos Verdes where art is exhibited and a wide variety of classes are presented. The association also provides groups of writers and artists with meeting and exhibition space and provides speakers on the arts to community groups. The association also sponsors an annual arts and crafts fair at the South Coast Botanic Gardens that drew 7,000 people last year.

About 160 volunteers trained by artists take art into the classroom in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Palos Verdes Peninsula schools in the “Art at Your Fingertips” program. The theme during the last school year was nature, and children were told to imagine that they were bugs in a garden and to see the garden from that viewpoint. They also painted their favorite animals.

Maubette Ball, association director, said the school districts have little money for the arts and that the association’s program makes up a large part of the arts education available in the schools. She said 4,000 children participated last year. Children also were brought to the galleries on tours.


Memberships in both CAP and the arts associations are open to anyone interested.

Arts promotion in the area is not strictly limited to the private sector. The city of Carson three years ago spent $12 million on a 22-room multipurpose community building, which can seat 700 people for concerts. Eric Forsberg, recreation superintendent, said the City Council and the city’s Arts and Historical Commission have developed an extensive cultural and recreational program because “the community as a whole has an interest in this area.”

$275,000 for Arts

The city has a fine arts budget of $275,000, which supports a youth band, a community symphony and a variety of dance, drama and arts programs.


Such performers as Marilyn McCoo and Jose Feliciano have appeared in yearly celebrity concerts, and this may be extended to three a year and moved to the Velodrome at California State University, Dominguez Hills, which Forsberg said can seat 7,000.

An arts endowment program has been proposed in Manhattan Beach. Among other things, it calls for placement of art in all new or renovated civic buildings. The City Council is expected to consider the proposal in July.

The Redondo Beach city budget contains $27,000 for placing art in public places--including Civic Center and entrances to the city--but a political squabble over how to carry out the program has left its future in question. “It’s rather dormant,” said City Manager Tim Casey.