"We have great challenges," says Deborah Borda, president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. "This is a sprawling, horizontal city, not a vertical one, and it has poor public transportation," she says, adding, "how do we get people to leave their basin villages and drive downtown?"
Efforts to tease a constituency from the largely suburban 10 million or so Angelenos include special events such as the recent, all-day Grand Avenue Festival, complete with free concerts, street performers, and food, as well as contemporary programming. The opera just closed a production of "The Fly," based on the film. No single event, however, has given as much hope to the cultural corridor denizens as the arrival of Gehry's stainless steel masterwork in 2003.
"Disney Hall has brought a glow to the entire downtown," says James Conlon, music director of the opera. Now, another Gehry design, the Grand Avenue project, is in the works, a $2.5 billion multi-use development with hotel space, restaurants, shops, housing, and what many hope will be its pièce de résistance, a 16-acre park. The core construction will replace what locals have dubbed a "Tinker Toy" parking garage (so named for its shoddy construction) directly across from Disney Hall. But delays over amenities such as low-income housing and aesthetics such as an elegant open stairway to connect the project to adjacent neighbor- hoods have left the community in limbo.