Hiromi (Photo courtesy The Broad Stage)
Hiromi (Photo courtesy The Broad Stage)

11th STREET — Things are about to get funkier over at The Broad.

The leadership of the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage announced two new initiatives Monday meant to push the art space into new territory in terms of original works and an effort to expand its jazz music credentials.

The Artistic Incubation Fund will give master artists in theater, opera and jazz the ability to create new works at The Broad, giving the performance space the capacity to “create, produce and actualize pioneering and compelling works,” said Dale Franzen, The Broad Stage director.

The fund is backed by an initial $2.5 million from the Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation and philanthropists Barbara Herman and Richard and Lisa Kendall.

Fundraising will continue so that The Broad Stage will be able to not only create new works, but document them as they begin and grow at the stage so that Santa Monicans and art lovers around the world will be able to access the material online.

“There’s now an opportunity for others to step up,” Eli Broad — millionaire, philanthropist and the stage’s namesake — told the audience suggestively. Broad and his wife Edythe gave $10 million to an endowment keep The Broad Stage operational in 2008, months before the center opened.

The Artistic Incubation Fund effort adds firepower to Franzen’s second announcement, the formation of a council of jazz heavyweights to curate programs, performances and events that Franzen hopes will establish Los Angeles as a go-to place for jazz right up there with other major metropolises.

“We need to take a stand in the jazz world,” Franzen said Monday. “Los Angeles needs to become a jazz center.”

To accomplish that task, Franzen gathered some of the biggest names in the business, including Grammy Award-winners Quincy Jones, Herb Alpert and Luciana Souza and professionals like the Jazz Bakery’s Ruth Price and Jeff Gauthier, Blue Whale jazz club owner Joon Lee, Daniel Seeff of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and producer Ben Wendel.

The dream-team of jazz, which Franzen believes will grow, will use its members’ entrepreneurial experience and decades of experience in the jazz world to create a “welcoming home” for jazz and place to mentor up-and-coming artists.

“Most countries in the world know more about our culture, especially our beloved music — jazz and blues — than we do; and culture is the most important thing. It is vitally important that The Broad Stage is available as a place for jazz musicians to showcase their material and collaborate with fellow artists,” Jones said.

The push to cement The Broad as a creative and learning space won’t stop with the 2013-14 year. Franzen also said they would initiate a Musical Theater Project in 2014, a three-year effort devoted to developing new works to be rehearsed, mounted and performed at The Broad Stage with a full orchestra.

The series will include readings, workshops and activities aimed to draw in community members.

Efforts like these are part of what makes this space so special, said David Finkel, a Trustee of Santa Monica College.

“I love the integration between education and the arts,” Finkel said, noting that his own political science students attend performances at the stage.

The performance space was born of a collaboration between SMC and the Broads. The couple, known for their donations throughout Los Angeles County, put forward the $10 million endowment to help with operational costs after SMC carried a $35 million bond to build it which was approved by Santa Monica and Malibu voters in 2004.

The effort got started at a dinner party hosted by former SMC President Piedad Robertson, Broad told a crowd in 2008 when he announced the endowment.

“There is always a lot of wishing and dreaming during dinner conversations,” he said then.

This time the wishes became reality, and have led to five years of performances, workshops and other events at the stage conveniently situated on the Westside.

The Broad Stage will close its fifth season with the world premiere of “Dulce Rosa,” an opera co-produced with Pl√°cido Domingo and the L.A. Opera based on a short story by Chilean author Isable Allende called “Una Venganza.”

The flood of fresh news enhanced but did not outshine the announcement of the sixth season lineup, a veritable cornucopia of talent in music, dance, theater and, for the first time, family-oriented programming.

Audiences will have the opportunity to experience William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” told through puppets from the team that brought the world “Warhorse,” and watch The Edye Second Space stage transform into a pub for “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart” by the National Theatre of Scotland.

Alfredo Rodriguez, a jazz pianist who works with Quincy Jones, will open for Japanese composer Hiromi.

Children will get in on the action with a behind-the-scenes look at Dreamworks’ Acadamy Award nominated film “Puss in Boots” in October, and then take a journey through the myths of South America and Europe the following year.

More announcements will be forthcoming, Franzen added.

For more information, visit www.thebroadstage.com





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