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Arts Council Dilemma: Divvying Up an LATC Leftover

Who should receive a California Arts Council grant awarded to the late Los Angeles Theatre Center? That’s the $65,000 question.

The money, approved before the October collapse of the LATC company, must be spent before the end of June. The CAC hopes to divvy it up among the former LATC labs and outreach programs, most of which still exist in one form or another.

However, the labs lost their nonprofit status when the LATC company folded and acquiring that status, a requirement for grant recipients, can be a long process.

So the outreach programs are asking established nonprofit organizations to act as their “fiscal receivers.” The Mark Taper Forum is already serving as the fiscal receiver for the Latino Lab’s current production at the Million Dollar Theatre, “La Virgen del Tepeyac.” Five of the other outreach programs (the AsianAmerican Theatre Project, Black Theatre Artists Workshop, Women’s Artists Workshop, the Classical Theatre Lab and the Platform, a political cabaret group) have formed a group called Artists’ Collective Los Angeles. Highways, the cutting-edge performance parlor in Santa Monica, has agreed to be the fiscal receiver for this group, though the agreement was only verbal as of press time.

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All well and good, said Juan Carrillo, deputy director of the CAC, but he’ll need written confirmation of fiscal receiverships extending through June 30, before the grant money can go anywhere.

“All the ingredients are there,” said Carrillo. “Whether we’ll make cake yet, I don’t know.”

And how would the cake be split?

“I’m not interested in setting off dynamics where some people get something that others don’t,” said Carrillo. The original application had requested $40,000 for Theatre as a Learning Tool (LATC’s educational wing), almost $14,000 for LATC’s Young Conservatory and $9,000 for each of five labs. But Carrillo said the original application probably won’t be “the guiding force.”

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INTO CHAPTER 11: The defunct LATC company officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 6. This technically allows reorganization, noted Jim Hunter, a spokesman for the board, but “chances are low” that this will happen. The filing provides “breathing space” while the Bankruptcy Court determines the disposition of the LATC assets. Former employees who are owed an estimated $85,000 in back pay will be able to assume first place in line, said Hunter, “and we believe we can realize enough (in sales of assets) to meet the claims of the employees and some of the taxing authorities” who are owed payroll taxes.

SAMPLER CHANGE: One entry in the Sampler Series, a multi-venue subscription package recently announced by Theatre LA, has been changed. Edit Villarreal’s “My Visits With MGM (My Grandmother Marta)” will replace the previously announced “El Eclipse” as the Bilingual Foundation’s show. Its dates could vary, depending on whether it’s at LATC--a possibility currently being discussed with city officials--or at the Foundation’s smaller theater in Lincoln Heights.

TOTO’S SAFE: The picketers at California Music Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz” last weekend pointed out that there are no members of Actors’ Equity in the cast and promptly dubbed the production “amateur.”

But a few of the cast members do belong to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). And they’re in trouble.

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Under the terms of reciprocal agreements in the bylaws of the actors’ unions, SAG and AFTRA have ordered their members not to work in “Oz.” Those who defy the order face possible charges.

Among them is 13-year-old Adrienne Stiefel, a SAG and AFTRA member who plays the leading role of Dorothy. “Her first obligation is to the theater that hired her many months ago,” said her mother, Linda Stiefel.

A framed cartoon that commented on Adrienne’s dilemma was displayed at the press table on opening night of “Oz.” It depicted Dorothy and her dog Toto huddling in fear while a Wicked Witch, labeled “Actors’ Equity,” flew across the sky, her backdraft spelling out the words, “Surrender Dorothy.” CMT artistic director Gary Davis said Adrienne gave him the cartoon.

At least Toto can relax. The trusty terrier is played by Adrienne’s own dog, also named Toto--but he is not a union member.

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