10 facts about the Music Center campus and how it’s run

Inside an empty Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, photographed Oct. 30, 2014.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

What exactly is the Music Center? The term applies to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Mark Taper Forum, the Ahmanson Theatre, Walt Disney Concert Hall and REDCAT. Grand Park, the newish green space between the Music Center and City Hall, is also overseen by the Music Center. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, L.A. Opera, the Master Chorale and Center Theatre Group, the performing arts groups that use those theaters, are tenants of the Music Center. REDCAT is an autonomous theater run by the California Institute of the Arts. Only the Chandler Pavilion is turning 50 this year.

“The Music Center.” Is that its whole name? The original name was the Music Center: A Monument for World Peace. It tried to rename itself the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County in 1999, but it didn’t catch on. A year later, citing a problematic “identity void” created by the new name, management returned to the Music Center — publicly. Its legal name is Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. But it answers to the Music Center.


Music Center events: In a preview box in the Nov. 16 Arts & Books section listing future events at the Music Center, pianist Simon Trpceski’s last name was misspelled as Trpeeski in the L.A. Philharmonic listings. —

Who runs it? Stephen Rountree has been president of the Music Center for 12 years, but he is leaving that job to become managing director of Center Theatre Group after the first of the year. A search for a new president is underway. Chief operating officer Howard Sherman will serve as interim president.


What is the county government’s relationship to the Music Center? The county owns all of the Music Center venues as well as Grand Park and provides partial funding to the Music Center’s private, nonprofit operating board, primarily for maintenance, utilities and security rather than to mount performances. The board raises money and takes in box office receipts and some arts education fees to cover the programming and education budgets. The county budget this year includes about $27 million for Music Center operations — $23 million for the performing arts venues and $4 million for the park.

OK, we know who Dorothy Chandler is; who were the other guys with theaters named after them? Mark Taper was a developer and businessman who built the city of Lakewood and First Charter Financial Group. He gave $1.5 million to help build the Music Center; the Mark Taper Foundation has donated to a variety of Los Angeles organizations. Howard F. Ahmanson also contributed $1.5 million. After starting the insurance underwriting company H.F. Ahmanson Co, he went on to found Home Savings of America and through the Ahmanson Foundation has been a major Los Angeles philanthropist. Walt Disney — animation visionary.

What other buildings did Music Center architect Welton Becket design in Los Angeles? The Capitol Records building and the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, the Beverly Hilton Hotel and the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

What are the most expensive tickets ever sold there? The cheapest? The most expensive theater tickets were $200 — dynamic pricing at work — for the final performances of “God of Carnage” and “Jersey Boys.” At L.A. Opera, top ticket pirce is $317 — also because of demand pricing — for the upcoming “The Marriage of Figaro.” (Tickets start at $21.) The cheapest would be $0 for free events including the annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration (3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 24 this year).

How does it compare in size to Lincoln Center in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.? Lincoln Center has six major theaters: the Rose, Lincoln Center Theater, the Metropolitan Opera House, David H. Koch Theater, Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall, as well as an auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Arts and various outdoor and atrium spaces. Kennedy Center has four: Concert Hall, the Opera House, the Eisenhower Theater and the Terrace Theater.