New LATC cancels subscription series

Times Staff Writer

The New LATC, formerly the Los Angeles Theatre Center, has canceled its first subscription series. In its place, a "Spring on Spring" performance series will be offered on a non-subscription basis.

The four- to six-play subscription series, announced in October, was to begin in mid-April with productions by Culture Clash, Robey Theatre Company, Cedar Grove Productions and Latino Theatre Company, following the newly renovated downtown venue's inaugural "World Stage Festival" last fall.

Jose Luis Valenzuela, artistic director of Latino Theater Company, the center's new operating entity, said the festival drew audiences that were younger than expected and family-oriented. "We found that this community just doesn't want to subscribe," he said. "They want to buy one or two events or buy a pass and see whatever they want."

A new marketing staff will reach out to potential audiences through the Internet and other electronic media, he said.

The New LATC, in the historic Old Bank District on south Spring Street, encompasses the Latino Museum of History, Art and Culture; the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television; and resident groups Culture Clash, the Robey company, Cedar Grove, Playwrights Arena and American Indian Dance Theatre.

It is owned by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and operated by the Latino Theater Company under a 20-year lease, a grant awarded in December 2005 after a lengthy wrangle over who was most qualified to run the venue. A $4-million state grant from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment Board for the center's renovation sealed the deal for Valenzuela's company. The center reopened in October.

When asked about reported staff cuts, Valenzuela said only that the hiring of hourly employees is and will be seasonal, depending on the volume of activity at the center. Rental productions anticipated to keep staff busy during the company's planned down time for the first three months of this year didn't materialize, he said.

The spring series will include the Latino Theater Company's "Solitude" as well as a new play by Luis Avalos, concerts, conversations with artists "and a bunch of community events," Valenzuela said.

The Robey's "A House With No Walls" by Thomas Gibbons ("Permanent Collection") will not be part of the low-cost series, but will open in mid-May as previously planned, artistic director Ben Guillory said.

"Cantinflas," a play by Culture Clash's Herbert Siguenza, had been slated for the subscription series, but will now take place in the fall, Siguenza said, because the group's show "Culture Clash in AmeriCCA" is opening at South Coast Repertory in March.

lynne.heffley@latimes.com

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