Philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad announced a $10 million donation to create an endowment for arts education at the new Santa Monica College (SMC) Performing Arts Center March 6th.
As a thank-you to the couple for their generous contribution through The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the new modernist steel, stone, wood and glass performing arts center — due to open September 20th — will be named The Broad Stage.
The adjacent 99-seat black box theater, open since August, will be called The Edye Second Space. The performance space allows for readings, plays and small audience offerings and also gives artists a place to introduce new material or to experiment.
The Broad Stage — which County Supervisor Zev Yaro-slavsky calls “the crown jewel of the Westside” — is an intimate, 499-seat state-of-the-art theater that will present notable artists, symphonies, operas, musicals, dance companies, film and theater, under artistic director Dale Franzen, said SMC spokesman Bruce Smith.
“Los Angeles is one of the world’s cultural and artistic centers, with world-class museums, theater, opera and symphony,” said Eli Broad at a press conference outside the new Broad Stage, in the company of Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman and public officials. “We have the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, and now the Westside will have its own premiere performing arts venue.
“We need to ensure the sustainability of our city’s cultural offerings, and this endowment will enable The Broad Stage to have the necessary resources to maintain first-rate performances for the public.”
The Broad Stage and The Edye Second Stage make up the SMC Performing Arts Center, which was designed by Santa Monica architect Renzo Zecchetto — and is attached to the Music Academy.
The Broad Stage combines the intimacy of a small theater with the acoustics and staging of a grand hall — allowing eye contact with the actors, musicians and dancers from any seat in the house, said Smith.
“From the grandest Broadway productions and musical performances to intimate readings by a solo artist, this new theater is unparalleled in its acoustics and its design,” said Franzen, a former opera singer. “The endowment created by the Broads has given our artistic vision a solid future, and it allows us to bring the very best artists and performances to the Westside.
“We expect, however, that our audiences will come from across Southern California to participate in a truly unique performing arts experience.”
Together, The Broad Stage and The Edye Second Space stages cost $45 million and have been funded through bond measures passed by the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu and $5 million from private donors.
“Without people like the Broads, we wouldn’t have the commissioned work of Mozart and Bach and Beethoven and so many of the great painters,” said Hoffman, who now chairs The Broad Stage’s artistic advisory board. “How they use their capital is commendable.”
The idea for the performing arts center was first raised almost a decade ago at a dinner party at the home of Piedad Robertson — then-president of SMC — attended by the Broads, Hoffman and Franzen.
But the Broads didn’t become involved in the project until last year after seeing the innovative complex under construction along Santa Monica Boulevard, Smith said.
Initially, Eli Broad insisted on naming one of the theater spaces after Hoffman, an SMC alumnus, but in the end, the Broads were persuaded to have the venues named after them, Smith said.
Despite a lifetime of cultural philanthropy, this is the first performing arts center the Broads have allowed to be named after them.
“Edye loves the theater,” said Broad, “and after 53 years of marriage, I wanted to honor her by naming the second space The Edye.”
Rob Rader, chair of SMC’s Board of Trustees, says the stages are “the latest and greatest in Santa Monica College’s tradition of giving back to the community.”
“Once again, we’ve pushed the boundaries of the possible,” Rader continued. “This isn’t our parents’ performing arts center but rather a hotbed of ideas, creativity, learning, spontaneity and virtuosity, like Santa Monica College itself.”