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L.A.'s Department of Cultural Affairs receives NEA grant for planned downtown arts center

July 15, 2010 |  5:20 pm

Broadwayartscenter A new arts center in the heart of downtown L.A. moved a modest step closer to reality on Thursday when the National Endowment for the Arts said it would be giving the city's Department of Cultural Affairs a grant for $100,000.

The NEA said the money would go toward a new mixed-used arts center called the Broadway Arts Center that is expected to be built in downtown's historic Broadway theater district.

The planned center would be a mixed-use facility that would offer affordable artists' housing, performance and exhibition space, an educational facility and a creative commercial center.

The NEA said that a minimum of 100 units of affordable housing will be available for artists and that the California Institute of the Arts is expected to serve an estimated 200 students a year at the center's educational facility.

The Department of Cultural Affairs is teaming up with other local organizations to develop planning studies for the center. The other partners include Artspace/Actors Fund and the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, according to the NEA.

Rocco Landesman, the chairman of the NEA, said Thursday that 21 grants totaling $3 million have been awarded to arts institutions around the country as part of the NEA Mayors’ Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative (MICD 25).

Individual grants range between $25,000 and $250,000.

The initiative is intended to support creative "placemaking" projects that transform sites into aesthetically pleasing places with the arts at their core, said the NEA.

L.A.'s Department of Cultural Affairs is receiving $100,000 as part of the project, and the Arts Council of Long Beach is getting $25,000. 

Other groups receiving money include the Hudson Yards Development Corporation in New York ($100,000); Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs ($250,000); and the San Francisco Arts Commission ($250,000).

In recent months, L.A.'s Department of Cultural Affairs has been the target of budgetary wrangling as the city continues to deal with a serious budget crunch.

-- David Ng

Photo: The proposed site for the Broadway Arts Center in downtown L.A. Credit: Stephen Friday