Letter: Community deserves a new performing arts center

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[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


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4 thoughts on “Letter: Community deserves a new performing arts center

  1. Joseph Hayes

    Agreed. While remaining much the same for centuries, the Arts have changed dramatically in the past 84 years. $200million would go far for an acoustically tuned, technologically modern center for music, local theater and performing arts, supported and enhanced by projection, modern lighting and sound, and immersive production, attracting new voices and new ideas. No need to invest in new wagon wheels for the old cart.

  2. Bright

    The “community” first needs a provably reliable water supply and sewage system.

  3. indy499

    So says the guy from Candler.

    See Richard, we Asheville folks are tired of subsidiizng the non citizens. You say Asheville/ Buncombe deserves this. What that means is Asheville pays a % and then Buncombe pays a %—–that’s great for you because you’re only in one pot. We’re in both. So, no.

    • NFB

      “See Richard, we Asheville folks are tired of subsidiizng the non citizens.”

      Yeah, but the Republicans in the state legislature put an end to annexation which allowed cities to deal with cities subsidizing adjacent residents.

      Also, some areas of Candler ARE in inside the city limits even though their mailing address in Candler.

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