The Palos Verdes Performing Arts is comprised of the Norris Theatre (a 450-seat theatre located at 27570 Norris Center Drive, Rolling Hills Estates, California), the Harlyne J. Norris Pavilion (an 14,000 square foot special event facility located at 501 Indian Peak Road in Rolling Hills Estates, California) and a Conservatory for youth arts education and performance (located adjacent to the theatre).
In 1973, Joan Moe had the vision to build a theatre on the Peninsula. In 1977, Joan Moe and Agnes Moss, with the help of twenty Peninsula citizens, formed a non-profit organization to fill the unmet needs of the community. A survey determined the need to build a performing arts theatre for professional productions that would also available for community use. Trustees President, Agnes Moss, named Joan Moe Chair of the Theatre Management Board. She had the responsibility to raise the start-up capital for construction and operating expenses for the Theatre.
Ernie Hahn and Ron Florence the developers of the shopping mall, known as The Promenade on the Peninsula, agreed to give the organization the land and shell of the building. The Ken and Eileen Norris Foundation provided a million dollars to kick-off the fundraising efforts. In September of 1983, a week of performances, celebrated the opening of the Theatre.
Providing professional performances, a venue for community rentals, a Community Outreach Program for the underserved in the South Bay, a location for the Prime Time Players musicals, the ACT II support group variety shows and the education classes and productions soon became a strain on the 450-seat theatre facility. In 1990 Dick Moe, then Chairman of the Management Board, formed a committee to obtain property and raise the start-up capital to build the Harlyne J. Norris Pavilion. The new facility was to house the business offices, provide class space for the education department (including a dance studio), a scene shop, a catering kitchen and a multi purpose room for performances, rehearsals and needed to be large enough for a 300 person sit-down dinner. The Norris Foundation provided a million dollars as a lead gift and the 14,000 square foot Harlyne J. Norris Pavilion opened in November 1999. The two facilities combined comprise the Norris Center for the Performing Arts and are a designated, non-profit, 501c3 organization.
The Pavilion facility hosts the business offices, theatrical performances, performance classes and becomes a rental facility for the community. The non-profit organization rental fee is reduced to benefit local organizations. The Norris Pavilion Forum has one hundred-six pullout theatre seats that can convert to a ‘black box’ theatre. The Forum acoustics are excellent for any type of performance. With the opening of the Norris Pavilion, the education department was established. The education program that has 1600 students attending classes and summer camps annually at the Pavilion and produced four or more musical shows each year.
A new building was leased in 2008 to house the growing education program, and to reduce the wear tear on the Pavilion. The leased building was built out and in use by 2010, and the current lease will expire in 2019. Plans for building a new Education/Conservatory space above the current Pavilion are in process. The new building should be in place by January 2022.
The Center is supported by donations from individuals and local businesses, support groups and an annual fundraising event. Income from ticket sales and facility rentals, volunteers and some volunteer staff have made it possible for the Center to achieve a positive cash flow with thirty-eight years of success.