[Regarding “City and Arts Leaders Discuss Renovation Options for Asheville’s Shuttered Auditorium,” Aug. 30, Xpress:]
In medical metaphor, Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium had a sudden failure in its respiratory system, impacting the ability to maintain its temperature. Upon further diagnostic evaluation, due primarily to old age, the auditorium has severe skeletal deficits, significant internal organ failure, hearing problems and major skin pathology. The patient is in critical condition.
To extend its life, the auditorium requires complicated and extremely expensive surgery. A team of experts has proposed five different complex and costly surgeries that will result in the extension of the life of the auditorium. With every complex surgery, there are unexpected events that will complicate whatever option is chosen. If the surgery is successful, there remains a problem of significance. You still have an auditorium.
Everything that is born lives and then dies. The auditorium has reached the end of its natural life. For everything it has experienced and achieved, the auditorium needs death with dignity.
Asheville/Buncombe County doesn’t need an auditorium. What is needed in this growing and progressive community is a performing arts center. Herein lies another metaphor regarding the creation of a new life. A performing arts center is a living, breathing entity. Asheville/ Buncombe County together with the arts community and the love between them can create such a facility.
The process from conception to birth will require a great deal of care-filled planning, attention to detail, persistence, perseverance and patience. The result will be an extraordinary facility in every dimension. Further, as the decades pass, only minor upgrades will need to be made as this facility flourishes from its early days until its inevitable ending in the next century.
Simply put, the current discussion regarding the auditorium is a reaction. Instead, what is needed is action in the creation of a multidimensional performing arts center. Like anything of great value, it will take more time and money than one would wish. But it will be worth the wait and worth the cost.
It is far better to build for the future than to repair the past. It is time for a disciplined paradigm shift for the stakeholders and gatekeepers on this matter. Asheville/Buncombe County deserves and needs a “field of dreams” performing arts center that combines the best engineering, technology and architecture that is available. Build it, and they will come.
— Richard Boyum