Plans have been announced to turn the 1000-seat Doolittle Theatre in Los Angeles into a Latino-oriented performance center next year. If the plan is realized, the theatre would be operated by the recently formed Ricardo Montalban-Nosotros Foundation and may be renamed the Ricardo Montalban Theatre.
"This has national implications," said Al Pina, an executive with the National Council of La Raza, the Washington, DC-based civil rights organization that helped fund development of the plan. "There is no comparably large theatre emphasizing Latino programming anywhere in the country."
Recently the Montalban-Nosotros Foundation signed an exclusive negotiating agreement with Regent Properties, a real estate and investment firm that intends to develop the area between Sunset Boulevard and the Doolittle, on Vine Street.
If Regent's proposal is approved by the Los Angeles City Council, the city's Community Redevelopment Agency will buy the Doolittle from owner UCLA for $2.1 million and turn it over to Regent. The deal would be part of a package that would also include a Hollywood Marketplace shopping center south of the Doolittle, as well as adjoining parking structures and a 5,000-square-foot building for support of theatre activities, just west of the theatre.
Regent would then contract with the Montalban-Nosotros Foundation to renovate and run the theatre. The foundation hopes to raise as much as $5 million for the renovation, the full costs of which have not been set.Until recently Nosotros ran a small Equity-waiver theatre in east Hollywood, producing several Latino-themed plays a year on a restricted budget. Nosotros president Jerry Velasco said tentative talks have been started with other L.A. Latino theatres which have been invited to come aboard.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent