Nodal and Bushnell

In your July 5 profile of Al Nodal, general manager of the city's Cultural Affairs Department ("Cultural Desperado: Keeper of the Flame"), he states that spending more on LATC would have been throwing good money after bad, that "there was $450,000 there, but I really didn't want to give it to (Bushnell) to keep the theater alive for another week. He couldn't tell me how long it would last. . . . I don't think Bill can accuse us of not doing enough."

Well, I can, and I will.

Los Angeles Theatre Center closed Oct. 13. Since then Nodal has spent several hundred thousand dollars to keep a skeleton staff and support a few minor bookings that have barely resonated on the local theater seismograph. That's not throwing good money after bad; that's throwing good money away.

Additionally, Nodal had reams of LATC financial statements and cash-flow documents that had been carefully analyzed by independent crisis managers and accountants. Those documents clearly demonstrated that if Nodal had released the $450,000 he controlled, and if our revenue projections were reasonably on target, the LATC theater company would have survived for six to eight months. During that time we might have worked out a sensible solution to the crisis created by the City Council's withdrawing its financial support of the building's maintenance and security, while simultaneously spending $5.3 million to purchase the building.

Nodal now acknowledges that it will be absolutely necessary for the city to annually put up at least $750,000 to enable any serious theatrical activity to occur in the LATC building.

I accuse Al Nodal of not doing enough, because now he will have to spend millions on companies with no committed audiences willing to go to the bleeding bowels of Spring Street.

I accuse Al Nodal of not doing enough, because for a few hundred thousand dollars he could have protected the city's $27-million investment.

I accuse Al Nodal of not doing enough, because he could have protected and preserved thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in ticket money spent by thousands of now-disenfranchised multicultural performing arts patrons who have no place to go at a time when L.A. desperately needs a neutral "gathering place" to help heal its wounds.

Al Nodal wanted Bill Bushnell out of LATC.

He got his wish.

So far he hasn't proven to me or anyone else that he has a clue how to restore the roaring cultural fire we kept lit for six years in the heart of downtown. Perhaps he should act on his desire to return to New Orleans or Cuba before the cultural flame he is supposed to protect goes out all over the city and the rest of you learn what I learned the hard way--L.A.'s cultural desperado is a wet blanket.


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