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Music Center makeover would cost more than $250 million, report says

April 8, 2010 |  1:00 pm

Dorothychandler Dreams die hard, and few are bigger in the arts world than dreams of new and improved venues.

A report on the Music Center's finances issued Wednesday by Moody's Investors Service substantially raises the cost of realizing the dream of an updated and maybe even acoustically improved Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, as well as a makeover of the unloved plaza between the Pavilion and the Mark Taper Forum, whose coldness undercuts a lovely view. Here's my story on the latest news.

When a price was last attached to redoing the pavilion early in 2008, the figure was more than $100 million. Now, according to Moody's, Music Center leaders' dreams run in excess of $250 million, which would cover fixing up the pavilion, overhauling the plaza and building a new office building that presumably would free up the space in the Pavilion now taken up by the offices of the Music Center and Los Angeles Opera.

While Moody's says plans call for proceeding "over the next several years," the Music Center seemed to demur in a statement issued after we asked for details: "The economic climate is not hospitable," it noted, and "at the present time we do not have any funding in place and have no set timetable for moving ahead," apart from hopes to get the pavilion and plaza redone "within the next decade."

If you've got a bulging investment portfolio and a hankering to have your name emblazoned on the same hilltop campus that immortalizes Walt Disney, Dorothy Chandler, S. Mark Taper and the Ahmanson family, you know who to call.

Just as a benchmark, note that it took a $100-million donation in 2008 to put a new name on one of Lincoln Center's venues. And just as a cautionary note about the potential pitfalls of amply funding buildings to house the arts -- but not the artists themselves -- New York City Opera, which shares the David H. Koch Theater (formerly the New York State Theater) with New York City Ballet, has been making at least as many headlines for its financial straits as for its creative accomplishments.

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Credit: Robert Millard / L.A. Opera