Local News

Performing Arts Center May End Up in Raleigh

Posted May 17, 1999

— Many people inDurhamwere hoping the Triangle's new Performing Arts Center would be built in the Bull City, butRaleighmay win out, giving a boost to an already strong arts community.

The Polk Youth Center was once a home for kids in trouble with the law, but now it could be the new home to a multi-million dollar arts center.

Members on the site selection committee picked that spot over a Durham location, and not everyone is happy about the news.

Musical shows likeRentperform before sell-out crowds at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. The number of broadway shows stopping there has increased from one to six in just three years.

The auditorium's general manager does not think Raleigh can support two large arts centers even though they are currently adding space.

"That will almost double our capacity, so at that point, we're working to fill those seats. It's going to take us a while to be at capacity in the next four to five years," said Jim Lavery, Raleigh Memorial Auditorium general manager.

Durham officials say that is one reason why the proposed Sanford Arts Center should go in Durham.

The DATA bus terminal was once billed the top choice.

Durham's mayor says that location would have not only helped the Bull City's revitalization efforts, but it would have also attracted more people to the center.

"I think the people making the decision missed a great opportunity. I think downtown is where an institute needs to be," said Durham Mayor Nick Tennyson.

Some Durham leaders are looking for the good in a potentially bad situation saying even if Raleigh gets the arts center, Durham could get something even better in their location.

"It's right between the ball park and Brightleaf, two of the hottest entertainment spots in the Triangle. It's not going to be hard to find somebody to go into that location," said Reyn Bowman,Durham Visitors Bureaudirector.

Because the Polk Youth Center is state property, theGovernorand theGeneral Assemblystill have to approve the purchase.

The Governor has expressed support for the location but says he will not make a final decision until a formal request has been submitted and he can see all the plans on the table.

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