Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

90-year-old school auditorium gets massive makeover, visit from Miss America

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A $7.5-million makeover has transformed a 90-year-old South L.A. school auditorium into a state-of-the-art performing arts theater.

The James A. Foshay Learning Center located of Western Avenue and Exposition Boulevard is an expansive campus that hosts kindergarten through 12th grade students.

Eduardo Mollinedo-Pinon is a former student at the school, who now attends USC and helps direct Foshay's music program. Mollinedo-Pinon said that prior to the renovation, many school shows had to be held outside or in the gym because there was no working air conditioning  in the theater, making it uncomfortable for students to perform during the hotter months.

He added that the auditorium, built in 1923, had almost no acoustical design and no curtains; the stage was in need of repair. Thanks to funding from Measure Y, Foshay got the money needed to turn the theater into a space that includes a new sound and lighting system, rehearsal room, improved acoustical design and 700 seats.

And the students who will be using this theater are no typical band kids. 

Mollinedo-Pinon said that many of Foshay's students are also part of the L.A. Philharmonic's Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) program. Led by conductor Gustavo Dudamel, this program helps provide intensive music training and free instruments to students from underserved neighborhoods.

Mollinedo-Pinon said in an email that many of Foshay's music program students have also performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Opening Night of the Hollywood Bowl, the Playboy Jazz Festival and Carnegie Hall.

The school hosted a ribbon cutting and opening night performances for the new auditorium last week.

According to a statement from Foshay's music director Vincent Womack, the new performance space is a dream come true.

"This is more than just music," said Womak. "This new auditorium is more than just me or the students it’s about this community I love. I am thankful for everybody’s support and look forward to doing great things.”

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