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Jazz Bakery relocates to Culver City

Annenberg Foundation's $2 mil grant to fund reopening near Kirk Douglas Theater

With the help of a $2 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation, L.A.’s the Jazz Bakery, which has been somewhat of an orphan since losing its Culver City lease in June of 2009, has found a new home — back in Culver City.

Along with the Annenberg seed grant, the Culver City Redevelopment Agency has cleared the way for the non-profit to develop a downtown property next to the Kirk Douglas Theater on Washington Boulevard, valued at north of $1 million, to serve as the Bakery’s new digs. The new space is expected to open by the end of 2012.

Since the Bakery’s old home in the Helms Bakery complex went dark, the organization has staged a series of “Movable Feast” concerts at a variety of L.A. venues.

The non-profit was created by Ruth Price, its president and artistic director, in 1992, and has developed a reputation for presenting some of the most daring jazz programming in Los Angeles, a city not necessarily known for its receptivity to some of the form’s more avant garde leanings. The venue has hosted rare visits from pianists Paul Bley and Denny Zeitlin, world renowned Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, as well as more widely known artists as Charlie Haden, Allen Broadbent, Charles Lloyd and John Abercrombie.

The preliminary blueprint will include a main Bakery Performance Space that will seat 200-plus, as well as a smaller theater meant to showcase more niche acts, as well as film, video and poetry presentations. Like the old space, the new Bakery will feature a lobby cafe, bakery and wine bar. There are also long-term plans for development of a “virtual museum” of West Coast jazz.

The Annenberg grant will provide the Bakery with a boost toward further fundraising — from individual donors, other foundations, corporations and local government — as well as a reserve fund to support future operations. In the past, the non-profit Bakery earned 80% of its annual $1 million budget from ticket sales.

Price, who has always contended that the Bakery’s mandate was “about the music and not the money,” said in a statement that the organization intends to “once again present the best in all forms of jazz, seven nights a week, 52 weeks a year. In keeping with our non-profit mission, we’ll keep ticket prices affordable and the music accessible.”