Pinehurst govt should tread carefully on performing arts center

Apparently, a group of residents seeking a performing arts center for Pinehurst has gone to the village council, with hat in hand, seeking financing to get the project moving.  

A performing arts center is a nice idea. Everybody ought to have one.  But, when taxpayers are expected to foot a significant portion of the bill, trouble can result. If you don’t believe me, ask officials in Roanoke Rapids.  The Crown Centre in Fayetteville — another facility with public financing —  has struggled mightily with its finances.  The City of Lumberton finds itself pumping thousands per year into the town’s  Civic Center to help it stay afloat.

The consultant the group wants to hire to get the project launched has worked on a number of similar projects, including The Hayes Center in Blowing Rock.  THAT facility has had a rather rocky history with finances.   (Blowing Rock also has a lot of deep-pocketed, seasonal residents.)   Let’s look a little closer to home — at the Sunrise Theater in downtown Southern Pines.   Developments at the Sunrise beg the question:  Is there a strong enough local market for a dedicated performing arts facility? 

There’s also an issue of village government investing in a project that takes business from existing entities.  Would the new center divert business from The Resort, The Fair Barn, Owens Auditorium @ SCC, or The Sunrise?  How would you like for your business to suddenly be competing with village government? 

Before spending ANY public money, I believe the village should make project organizers demonstrate there is some public support for this project.  Make it a matching grant: organizers raise 80 percent from private sources, and the village  kicks in the final 20 percent.  Something like that limits taxpayers’ exposure, and, at the same time, demonstrates the village’s commitment to improving the quality of life for local residents.

Also, instead of building something new, look at existing possibilities.  The Theatre Building in downtown used to host Broadway and Vaudeville productions. Why not work out a deal to return the building to its roots?

3 thoughts on “Pinehurst govt should tread carefully on performing arts center

  1. As a taxpayer, music lover AND elected leader in Pinehurst, here is my thought process related to the proposed Pinehurst Performing Arts Center. We must look at potential economic possibilities for our Village’s future. Golf will always be important but may have reached its peak; our hospital is an economic driver and will continue to be. Here in Pinehurst, it’s pretty clear what we don’t want(big industry, big box stores) so we must, as leaders, invest in what we DO want. A Performing Arts Center is one of the few economic development engines that could be attractive to our residents, day visitors AND tourists. It could also provide an added tax base (that requires few services) and attract complimentary businesses (restaurants, music stores etc. ) By funding the Feasibility Study, Pinehurst is taking the first (and perhaps bold) step. Once we determine IF the PPAC is economically feasible, the PPAC Board will need to take it from there. If there is proven support and financial commitment, the Village may look at other gifts (money, land) but until we understand how such a facility could impact Pinehurst, Moore County and our region – no further steps can be taken. I say, let’s go for it.

    Nancy Roy Fiorillo

  2. As a Pinehurst resident I only ask a few things of our local government. Keep us safe, have good schools, keep taxes low, and have as few regulations as possible.
    It isn’t the governments job to have a performing arts center when we have a facility like the fair barn that could accomodate it. If these concerned individuals want a center like this, why don’t they pay for it with private money and donations. Why does the government need to be involved at all?
    Again this isn’t about creating jobs or building a better Pinehurst. It’s wasting tax payer’s money on something that should be handled by the private citizens in the private sector.

  3. When the Village Track was acquired it was promoted by the then Mayor as a self-liquidating proposition. It wasn’t.It has cost several million dollars. When the Fair Barn was redone it waspromoted as the generous achievement of a foundation- ithas cost the Village over a million in debt. When the Golf Hall of Fame was created it flopped badly because there is insufficient visitor traffic here to support such a venture. The proposed PAC also needs a large population center and a large benefactor to have any chance of success. I see neitherin the plan.

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