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Center Theater, agency probe Culver Theater use

Center Theatre Group (CTG), the umbrella organization that oversees both the Ahmanson Theatre and Mark Taper Forum portions of the Music Center of L.A., has entered into a 13-month exclusive negotiation agreement with the Culver City Redevelopment Agency (CCRA) to investigate the use of the Culver Theater.

During the 13 months, CTG’s artistic director/producer Gordon Davidson and his staff will evaluate and assess the feasibility — both logistically and financially — of renovating the Culver and using it as an additional space for CTG projects that for one reason or another are less suitable for its pair of Downtown facilities.

The Culver Theater, located on Washington Blvd., is considered something of an historic landmark.

Davidson said that almost since the Mark Taper Forum was opened, he has searched for “a smaller, even more intimate and more flexible space” than the Taper.

“(The Culver Theater) would enable us to expand the artistic range of our presentations and to include works that for a variety of reasons —aesthetic, budgetary or thematic — are not suitable for a subscription run of seven weeks in a 750-seat theater.”

The CTG had done a similar evaluation of the Bergamot Station site in Santa Monica but ultimately deemed it unsuitable for its needs. After examining a number of other potential sites, Davidson said, only the Culver met its criteria.

“The location of the theater, between the Music Center and the Westside, is ideal,” Davidson added. “Furthermore, the current redevelopment of downtown Culver City is already impressive … The environment will be welcoming to theatergoers.”

A decision by the CTG on whether to restore, update and utilize the Culver Theater is not expected before spring 1998 at the earliest.

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