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Inner-City Arts Opens Major Expansion

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Friday, October 03, 2008, at 09:12AM
Pinwheels Ed Fuentes

PINWHEEL WELCOME: Children assemble on Kohler Street. In 1990, Inner-City Arts served 9 elementary schools. In 2008, they provided arts education for 55 elementary, middle and high schools.

Building a dream arts facility for children on the edge of Skid Row can be a slow and lumbering process, but Thursday morning saw flags, pinwheels, puppets and lots of high spirits at Inner-City Arts completed expanded campus. From a commonly used entrance, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa led a procession of students, teachers, and donors to the corner of Merchant and 7th, through the just named Bob Bates Grand Entry Gate, located between the Rosenthal Theater, a state of the art black box performance space, and The Hinchiffee Building, into the Grand Courtyard.

Inner City Arts began 20 years ago as a response to budget cuts in arts education, servicing high-risk youth with programs in music, art, theater, ceramics, and later animation and video. While the campus expansion was built in three major phases, and final fundraising for the $10 million project is still ongoing, capacity is now doubled and the facility can now help 16,000 elementary, middle and high school students improve their skills, allowing growth in academics and expression.

In the design by Michael Maltzan of Michael Maltzan Architecture, the buildings are fragmented in form, daring to be white, including the walls facing streets. The structures form an abstract canyon, framing an urban forest of 30 trees along with native plants rocks and fountains in a landscape designed by Nancy Power of Nancy Goslee Power and Associates. The team of Maltzan, Power and environmental design firm Ph.D, offered their services pro-bono in what has become a 15-year collaboration.

The original goals of founders Bob Bates and Irwin Jaeger are represented by the series of buildings where materials are reused, creating a new function and finding a new value, to provide a place where students can be taught how reinterpreted their own lives.


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