Independent Staff Report
HOLLYWOOD — The Actors Fund, the national human services organization for the performing arts and entertainment industry, and affordable housing developer Thomas Safran & Associates broke ground Feb. 11 on the Hollywood Arts Collective.
The $120 million project will include 151 units of affordable housing for artists, the 86-seat Glorya Kaufman Theater, art galleries, rehearsal studios, nonprofit arts office space and a new home for the Actors Fund Western Region Headquarters.
The start of the project was celebrated at a virtual groundbreaking, featuring Annette Bening, vice chair of the Actors Fund; Brian Stokes Mitchell, chairman of the Actors Fund; and Chandra Wilson, head of the Western Council of the Actors Fund.
“The Actors Fund has been supporting the entertainment community in Los Angeles for over a century,” Bening said. “The Hollywood Arts Collective allows us to significantly deepen our commitment to our colleagues in the Hollywood creative community.”
“We are thrilled that this innovative and essential project is finally being realized in the heart of Hollywood,” said Actors Fund President and CEO Joseph P. Benincasa. “The combination of affordable housing with a vibrant neighborhood arts center is completely unique and is the first of its kind in Southern California.”
“We are proud to partner with the Actors Fund on this incredible opportunity to provide 151 units of much-needed affordable housing in the heart of Hollywood,” said Thomas Safran & Associates President Jordan Pynes. “With the support of affordable rents and social services provided by the Actors Fund, we plan to create a creative, collaborative community for local artists to thrive in.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti was part of the virtual ceremony.
“The Hollywood Arts Collective is a tribute to the Angeleno spirit, combining an affordable place to live with a dynamic place to create, transforming a home for artists into a thriving community for the arts, and breathing new energy into the heart of our city,” Garcetti said.
The Hollywood Arts Collective will consist of two buildings: the Arts Building, designed by HGA, and the Residential Building, designed by Withee Malcolm Architects. The development will be located on Hollywood Boulevard between Wilcox Avenue and Schrader Boulevard, further contributing to the revitalization of Hollywood as a cultural epicenter and destination for the arts and entertainment communities.
With nearly $100 million in public support and conventional financing already secured, the Actors Fund expects to raise at least $20 million philanthropically in support of the project as part of a public capital campaign, with $5 million already raised toward that goal. The project, which is now officially under construction, is expected to open in 2024.
The project has been in the works for 10 years. The Actors Fund, in partnership with the city Department of Cultural Affairs, conducted a survey of the local arts community in 2012 to determine affordable housing needs, finding an overwhelming majority of those surveyed calling for affordable housing for working artists who are increasingly priced out of the Los Angeles area.
Both individual artists and arts organizations also cited the overwhelming need for more affordable rehearsal and presentation space in the city.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Actors Fund has provided more than $19 million in direct financial assistance to more than 15,000 people in need in the performing arts and entertainment industry, while continuing to provide affordable housing opportunities, health care and insurance counseling, senior care, secondary career development and more.
“For 139 years, the Actors Fund has been helping people in the arts in need,” said philanthropist Glorya Kaufman. “My passion has been theater and dance and helping causes that help people in these professions. Therefore, the Actors Fund has been the crown jewel in my philanthropic life. I’m so excited about being part of this new project for the performing artists who will receive shelter, support and care in LA.”
“With gentrification and rising rents in neighborhoods traditionally accessible to workers in the entertainment and arts community, the Hollywood Arts Collective is an urgent and timely need,” said Actors Fund Western Region Executive Director Keith McNutt. “This project will allow professionals in our industry to live, work and perform in the center of creativity in Los Angeles. Their presence, their work, will be an engine of the continued arts-based revitalization of Hollywood.”
“By 2024, this project will be a reality here, in the heart of Hollywood,” said Chandra Wilson, of the Actors Fund’s Western Council. This will be “a beautiful new space for our arts and entertainment community.”