The newest city-owned performing arts center in the West San Fernando Valley, dubbed the Canoga Park Stage Arts Lab, will serve as an incubator space for local artists, Councilman Bob Blumenfield said Thursday, while also unveiling a plan for major upgrades to the nearby Madrid Theater.

“While in our schools funding for arts and cultural education continue to be under siege … I am proud that today we welcome the newest public performing arts center to our city,” said Blumenfield, who was joined by Danielle Brazell, general manager of the Department of Cultural Affairs, at a ceremonial golden key exchange for the property at 7242 Owensmouth Ave.

“With CPSAL, we open up our community to be transformed into an arts and entertainment destination where playwrights, actors, musicians and others can shape and highlight their work,” he said.

The former West Valley Playhouse, purchased by the city for about $1.4 million with excess Community Redevelopment Agency bond funds, has a seating capacity of about 150 and was a Masonic Lodge before it was transformed into a theater in 2000.

“The Valley Cultural Foundation is so excited for the West Valley Playhouse and all its future growth,” said Nora Ross, CEO of the Valley Cultural Foundation. “The benefits of the Playhouse will continue to bring, share and nurture the arts while bringing so much to the West Valley.”

The Los Angeles City Council in March signed off on plans to invest about $10.5 million in the Aliso Creek Confluence Park, streetscape enhancements on Sherman Way in Reseda, improvements to the Madrid Theater as part of the Canoga Park Arts Hub, and a new traffic signal.

The Madrid Theater, which seats about 440 people, will need about $8.5 million in upgrades, with about $3 million to be paid for with CRA bond funds.

“For over a decade, I have worked with residents, business owners and community organizations on ways to help the West Valley become an engine for economic growth and a destination for commerce, art and culture,” Blumenfield said. “These projects are critical to achieving that goal in Canoga Park and Reseda.”

Blumenfield also noted the planned revitalization of the Reseda Theater on Sherman Way, to be turned into a five-screen multiplex to be operated by Laemmle Theaters.

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