Thursday night at Plano’s Courtyard Theater, The Arts of Collin County Commission assembled a small but passionate crowd to inspire fundraising efforts for a new 124 acre “world class arts park and performance hall.” Where might the sprawling suburb cities of Allen, Frisco and Plano manage to fit such a mecca? If you’ve ever tried driving to IKEA by way of the Highway 121 exit off of Central Expressway, you know it as that long, long stretch of road that made you wish you’d ponied up the change for the Dallas North Tollway. One day soon, it will be “Collin County’s Central Park,” according to ACCC President Steve Matthews.
Raising $20 million in this economic climate sounds like crazytalk to me, but after listening to this succinct, lively program, I am a believer. First up was Vesselin Demirev, concertmaster of the Plano Symphony Orchestra, who stood alone on stage playing his violin. I don’t expect music at meetings, and I was impressed that this group should initiate a discussion of arts funding with such relevant loveliness. Following the performance, Bill Lively, CEO and Founding President of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, and former Plano mayor James Muns each spoke on art’s behalf, rallying the troops to get out there and raise money.
The first phase of development would include a 2100-seat main hall, parking and outdoor spaces for performance, sculpture, and hike and bike trails; the second phase could include artist studios, an education center and more theaters. The timeline for all this is a little hazy. Hazier still is exactly how they’re planning on raising money during an economic decline, but hey, Plano was the richest city in the country just last month, so maybe I’m being a pessimist. “We’re going to go after it, ” declared Muns. “You do not have enemies as a fundraiser.”