The Los Angeles City Council joins the debate this week over the future of the downtown complex that housed the late Los Angeles Theatre Center.
A "caretaker" plan for the municipal theater center is expected to come before the council Tuesday. The proposal would allow $450,000 of city money, already set aside for capital improvements at the building, to be used for "interim operational expenditures" as well, during a period ending June 30.
The plan would permit "rehearsal and laboratory activities of selected users" and "self-produced stage presentations" to take place.
The proposal is advocated by Al Nodal, general manager of the Cultural Affairs Department, which manages the facility for the city, and probably will be introduced by Councilman Richard Alatorre.
The only urgent capital improvement is new carpet, Nodal said. His proposal would keep the building lit and in limited use, while he negotiates the terms of a long-range management plan for the building and a contract with "one or more producer/operator(s) to continue a program of theatrical presentations" there after July 1.
Long-range discussions about the building also could arise from another council motion, introduced by Councilwoman Joy Picus on Friday. Picus called on the council's Arts, Health & Humanities committee to "consider and discuss the public policy issues involved in the future" of the building.
Picus, who supported a continued city subsidy of the former LATC company, said she wasn't sure if she would vote for the Alatorre proposal, in the absence of a major production company on the LATC premises. "We shot ourselves in the foot," said Picus, "and now we're trying to stitch something back on the leg. . . . I have problems putting money into a comatose patient."
Meanwhile, in a separate proposal expected to pass Tuesday without much dissent, Picus has asked the city to spend $7,000 to allow some of the high school students who were scheduled to see "The Night of the Iguana" at LATC to be bussed in to a special daytime performance of a show at the Mark Taper Forum.
Taper officials also have agreed to help solve another LATC-related problem. The Taper's umbrella organization, Center Theatre Group, will act as the "fiscal receiver" for money contributed to the Latino Theatre Lab for its Oct. 28 fund-raiser, scheduled at the LATC building.
When the LATC company dissolved, its Latino wing was left without independent nonprofit status, just prior to its annual fund-raiser. In order to ensure that contributions remain tax-deductible, the lab had to quickly find an established nonprofit sponsor.
The Taper "heard our cries for help," said the lab's director, Jose Luis Valenzuela. Contributions to the lab will now be made out to "CTG for Latino Lab."
The Taper affiliation may also help the lab achieve the legal status that Nodal has said is necessary for the lab to continue its residence within the LATC building. Members of the lab have been camped in the building since last Monday, the day after LATC performances ended. They say they'll stay until council action guarantees them space within the building and a measure of financial support.
Another part of the Alatorre proposal would authorize Cultural Affairs to rent the building's telemarketing facilities to the Taper.
Los Angeles Theatre Center subscribers' tickets for the interrupted season may be honored at a number of other area theaters, according to a plan under development by Theatre LA, a theater service organization, in conjunction with the city's Cultural Affairs Department. Although details remain to be worked out, the tickets would be honored, subject to availability, at participating Theatre LA member theaters. Producers at three small theaters have said they will honor LATC season tickets. Their shows include "The Indian Wants the Bronx" at the Zephyr Theatre in Los Angeles, "Broadway Sings Out" and "Sparks" at the West End Playhouse in Van Nuys, and "Everything's Coming Up Hits" and "Lombard," soon to open at Center Stage in Woodland Hills.