The official opening of the Music Center’s new “Plaza for All” on Wednesday morning will have an additional jolt of good news: a $12-million gift to help make the arts more accessible to Los Angeles County residents.
The gift, from philanthropist and former City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski and her Ring-Miscikowski /The Ring Foundation, will be used as seed money by the new TMC Arts Fund, which aims to broaden the Music Center’s reach. It seeks to provide free and low-cost public programming, educational initiatives and dance to take place at the plaza and other Music Center venues.
A central goal of the redesigned plaza, led by L.A.-based Rios Clementi Hale Studios, was accessibility. The raised, outdoor space is now better integrated with its urban surroundings and more accessible to passersby, a physical manifestation of the Music Center’s commitment to access and inclusion, noted Music Center President Rachel S. Moore. The TMC Arts Fund is the programmatic component of that mission.
“It’s to really breathe life into our new vision of deepening the cultural lives of every resident of L.A. County,” Moore said in an interview.
The opening of “Plaza for All” follows a 20-month, $41 million renovation. The ceremony will include remarks by city officials and Music Center leaders, as well as a performance by 120 L.A.-based percussionists.
The TMC Arts Fund will serve as an umbrella division under which all of the Music Center’s “programming pieces,” developed outside of the resident companies, will live, Moore said, including Grand Park events, community engagement activities, education, public concerts and more. Josephine Ramirez, who comes from the California-based James Irvine Foundation and was formerly a part of the Music Center’s programming team from 2004-10, will run the division.
Moore called the $12-million gift “a huge vote of confidence in the direction the Music Center is going in. Cindy was really compelled by that. It will allow us to not only expand on our current programming, but will also serve as research and development for innovation and new programs that help us find new ways of sharing this incredible, new public resource that we have at the Music Center — this new space — with all people across the county.”
The Music Center contributed an additional $2 million to the TMC Arts Fund, which brings the programming seed money to $14 million.
As it incubates new programming, community engagement will be at the forefront.
“It’s not about imposing art onto the community, but engaging with the community and finding out what people want — it’s a dialogue,” Moore said, adding that the approach is somewhat unusual in her experience.
“I think it’s very common for performing arts centers to focus on their theaters and traditional proscenium-[stage] based work. And really reaching out into the community, having a dialogue with community members about what they want and how they want to use [resources], is pretty cutting edge in the world of performing arts centers. It’s exciting to be at the forefront of that.”