MADISON CAMPUS — While many arts organizations are cutting back in light of the struggling economy, the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center is planning to expand during its sophomore season, offering twice the number of performances presented during its debut.
The Broad Stage, which was constructed at a cost of $45 million, with $40 million coming from local taxpayers in the form of two bond measures, will offer 81 performances, compared with the current season’s 40. Offerings will include Broadway and theater, as well as the return of chamber music, jazz, baroque, dance, opera and family and educational programs.
World-renowned dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov will kick-off the second season with two U.S. premiers on Sept. 4-5, followed by Plácido Domingo, who will be making his Broad Stage conducting debut with the L.A. Opera Orchestra in a program of “Zarzuela,” all performed in Spanish. KCRW will present 12 performances of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Company and Tony-Award-winner Savion Glover will perform the West Coast premier of his unique dance show “Bare Soundz.”
There will be free community concerts and tickets to some events start at $20, and include free parking, a change from last season when parking was $8.
“Our mission is to bring established and emerging performing artists from all over the world and give them the freedom to do what they do best. The artists have responded brilliantly,” said Dale Franzen, artistic director for the performing arts center which includes the Broad Stage and the Edye Second Space, a smaller black box theater adjacent to the main stage.
While the economy did hurt attendance for some performances during the fall, Franzen said many were sold out and expanding the season increases much-needed ticket revenue.
The Broad, which received $10 million from Eli Broad to create an endowment fund, has been able to cut costs because many artists have lowered their fees due to the recession. Also, the second season figures to be less expensive to produce because there are no launching costs and more shows will run longer instead of being offered for one night only.
As was the case in the debut season, next year’s schedule includes free family outreach programs and the Under the Radar series of more experimental, lower-priced performances at The Edye. Composer and saxophonist Ben Wendel, an adjunct professor of jazz at USC, is the associate producer for Under the Radar.
“We really want to bring in the crowd that you normally find in a nightclub,” Franzen said of the Radar series. “Our vision includes nurturing new audiences as well as new artists.”
For 2009-10, the Broad Stage is also introducing a literary series titled “From Page to Stage” and is planning another series featuring Dustin Hoffman, the artistic chairman of the Broad Stage, in conversation with various artists. The Hoffman series is free to donors and will be available for single ticket sales beginning Aug. 1.
Fans of the Broad got a taste of the “I Wonder” series Thursday during a press conference at the venue. Hoffman joined actors from the Impro Theatre on stage for an intimate conversation about their love for acting. The group gave visitors a sample of their production “Jane Austen Unscripted with High Tea,” which will take place in December at the Second Space.
The actors look like Jane Austen characters, dress like them, speak like them, but the actors work without a script, taking suggestion from the audience. On Thursday one audience member shouted out “cucumber sandwiches.” The actors proceeded to perform a short piece around the evils of the cucumber sandwich, causing the audience to crack up with laughter.
“The Broad Stage is a place where emerging artists may play large, and established artists may play small, where exploration of the edge is encouraged and supported, and the community experiences art outside the rails of commerciality,” Hoffman said.
Franzen said she believes the Broad Stage is filling a performing arts gap on the Westside.
For a complete schedule, visit the Broad Stage Web site at www.thebroadstage.com, or call (310) 434-3200 for more information.