I have three passions: real estate, the arts, and Beverly Hills. Over the years, I have spent so much of my free time supporting the arts and music in our community. Most recently, I have served as a proud board member of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Finally, after many years of dreaming and planning by a small group of civic leaders, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is becoming a reality, once again raising the prominence of Beverly Hills.
On October 14, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts celebrated a momentous ribbon cutting ceremony. I was honored to attend the event, along with past Beverly Hills mayors, dignitaries, and fellow board members, who cut the ceremonious ribbon in true Beverly Hills style. The venue will celebrate its official unveiling to the public this Thursday, October 17, with a star-studded, black tie Inaugural Gala presented by internationally renowned fashion house, Salvatore Ferragamo, and hosted by Gala co-chairs Wallis Annenberg, Jamie Tisch, Brad Pitt and Robert Redford.
The opening of Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is a significant milestone in Beverly Hills’ history. The center is a vibrant new cultural destination with two distinct buildings: the historic 1933 Italianate-style Beverly Hills Post Office and the new, contemporary 500-seat, state-of-the-art Goldsmith Theater designed by Zoltan Pali and his award-winning firm, Studio Pali Fekete architects (SPF:a). From music, theater, dance classes and children’s programming, the center will serve as the centerpiece of Westside culture. Santa Monica Boulevard, between Crescent and Canon Drive, will never again be the same!
Of course, the journey here was not an easy one—but it makes the grand opening especially extraordinary for me. The vision for Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts began nearly 20 years ago with a small group of people who were passionate about the arts and wanted a venue that would expand the cultural landscape of our city and the entire Westside. Their initial dream was to have a small theater in the old historic post office on Santa Monica Boulevard. The historic building with its WPA murals was built in the 1930s when Will Rogers demanded the post office be built. Back in those days, sacks of mail were simply thrown on the street corners. The city later bought the post office from the Federal government with the commitment to preserve this historic building and create a vibrant cultural destination. That was the “kernel of a dream.” Many years after the initial concept for this performing arts center had been developed, philanthropist Wallis Annenberg decided to be the “angel” to give this dream wings, and so she did. This dream became a “bricks and mortar” reality and the founding leaders could fulfill this momentous undertaking.
When I joined the board two years ago, I could not have been prepared for the joy and pride I feel at this very moment—the moment when the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts opens its doors to the city of Beverly Hills. Its impact will be felt not just on the Westside—but throughout Los Angeles. It will create a vital cultural destination, like downtown, simply because of its desirable geography. It will transform the Westside from an epicurean and shopping destination to a fully realized city, putting a taste of culture within the reach of all of us. It will reach beyond its physical boundaries too, because of the programming and commitment to bring in children from all over Los Angeles. I am proud to welcome this ever-important cultural center to Beverly Hills, but I want to hear from my readers as well!
What do you think about the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts? Do you believe that our city will forever be changed by the new presence of the arts?
Linda with Jerry Magnin, chairman of the board and dear friend, in the grand foyer of the old Beverly Hills Post Office.
Linda and Richard Rosenzweig, vice chairman of planning for the center’s board of directors.
Linda with fellow board members, David Bohnett and Susan Strauss.
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