AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’Councilman Dennis Zine, whose district includes the theater, had denied the request, claiming the VCC was “fiscally irresponsible.” But at the last minute, he promised money from his civic fund and state community-redevelopment funds. The finances started to arrive, but the VCC couldn’t come to an agreement with the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which had been tasked with renewing its three-year contract for another year after it had expired June 30. The city will operate the theater while searching for a replacement. “We are here to do a seamless transition,” said Karen Constine, who in July became cultural affairs interim general manager. “We acknowledge the process has been slower than desired. But we’re here and we are going to keep the theater going.” She wouldn’t comment on why the VCC contract was not renewed, as the council had directed, or why a request for bids from prospective operators to take over July 1 has not been drafted. CANOGA PARK – After winning an 11th-hour promise of $56,000 in taxpayer funds to continue running the Madrid Theatre, the Valley Cultural Center said Monday that it will pull out after all because the city hasn’t come through with the money. The center will cease operation of the theater, which is owned by the city and was hailed as the catalyst of the new Canoga Park, on Jan. 30. “They just took too long to get done things that need to get done,” said Michael Turner, VCC chairman. “The city for whatever reason doesn’t seem to move very quickly. For organizations like us, where we don’t have the deep pockets, we can’t wait for them to figure out whatever they need to figure out.” Only 3 1/2 months ago, the VCC, which also runs Concerts in the Park at Warner Center Park, warned that it would no longer be able to manage the Madrid if the city didn’t provide a $56,000 subsidy to cover an operational deficit. Some misgivings In a letter Friday to VCC President and CEO Jim Kinsey, Zine repeatedly expressed his “frustration” and “disappointment” with the Department of Cultural Affairs. “Valley Cultural is a wonderful organization. They did a great job,” Zine said in an interview Monday. “Unfortunately, Cultural Affairs is dropping the ball. They are responsible. And I don’t feel comfortable having them run (Madrid) for an extended period of time.” Neither do community backers. Cultural Affairs tried running the Madrid once before – and the results were meager. After the former Pussycat Theater was damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, then-Councilwoman Laura Chick pushed to have the X-rated-movie house rebuilt as a community playhouse. The 433-seat Madrid Theatre opened in 1998 to jubilant optimism. Supporters envisioned 135 to 175 performances each year, drawing 50,000 theatergoers to Antique Row. Out of the ashes, a phoenix would rise on Sherman Way. But, under the governance of the Department of Cultural Affairs, the first five years were a disappointment. With a $440,000 operating budget, the theater hosted only 52 plays in 2002 and failed to attract the anticipated foot traffic. “There was no big draw to the shows put on there,” said Mike Puetz, owner of nearby Henri’s Restaurant and Barroom. “Now there are a lot of interesting shows that go on there.” The VCC, which received a $120,000 subsidy and had an $800,000 operating budget, tripled the number of performances and doubled attendance in the first year, with attention-grabbing shows such as “Orgasms: The Play.” Puetz spoke gravely about the anticipated effect of cultural affairs taking the theater back. Canoga Park’s rebirth doesn’t demand the Madrid Theatre for its continued success, he said. But there is a lingering fear that the stretch of Sherman between Owensmouth and Remmet avenues could return to more dangerous days. “Every setback for that place,” he said, “is another nail in the coffin for that area.” [email protected] (818) 713-3634160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!