Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bad News for Arts of Collin County

On May 14, voters in Frisco revoked the authority of the city to issue its remaining $16.4 million in bonds to build the Arts of Collin County Performing Arts Center. The project was originally conceived a decade ago as a joint project of four cities. McKinney voters rejected the bond issue in 2002, leaving Plano, Allen and Frisco. Now Frisco has taken a step to back out, which would leave only Plano and Allen. Plano mayor Phil Dyer said before the Frisco election that if Frisco dropped out, Plano would have to take a second look at the project itself.

After the jump, why bad news for the Arts of Collin County means good news for Richardson.

If built, the massive Collin County complex, including a 2,100-seat Performance Hall, would inevitably siphon some events that might otherwise consider Richardson's Eisemann Center as a venue. Not only would attracting these bookings help the Eisemann Center's bottom line, but they would give Richardson residents a greater variety of entertainment offerings in a venue close to home. Schadenfreude is a guilty pleasure, but I defend myself by noting that Collin County's decision is being made by Collin County voters, so they get what they want and Richardson benefits from their decision. Win-win!

Arts lovers of Collin County, come on down to Richardson. The Eisemann Center is just across the county border.

It could turn out that Frisco's decision to drop out will save Collin County from making a mistake. Not that building a performing arts center would be a mistake, but the current plans for the Arts Park is a mistake. Take a look at the pretty drawings on the Arts of Collin County website. The Arts Park looks like something designed in the 1980s, when suburban sprawl was still on the rise. The performing arts center is stranded by 100+ acres of parkland. If there's a community being served, it's nowhere in sight. The park isolates the hall and the hall spoils the park.

The Eisemann Center in Richardson doesn't have a perfect location either, but at least it's part of its community. The Eisemann is surrounded by a hotel, office buildings, apartments and a light rail station. Unfortunately, the thing that's missing is a critical omission: street life. Come to Galatyn Park for Wildflower! (May 20-22, 2011) and see what Galatyn Park can be with street life. But the architecture lacks the restaurants and shops to keep even a little of that street life year round. And that's a huge flaw in Galatyn Park. Galatyn Park might be salvageable in that regard, given political will to make it happen. The Arts Park of Collin County might not -- either the "Arts" or the "Park" has to go -- so the demise of the ill-conceived project would not be the disaster it would appear to be at first sight. Collin County cities should go back to the drawing board and design something that's part of the community. And Richardson should focus on creating some community in Galatyn Park on more than one weekend a year.


Mark Steger said...

Good news for Collin County. I've been informed that the Collin County line is farther south than I realized. In fact, it runs right through the center of Richardson's Eisemann Center! So, arts lovers of Collin County, come on down. Park in the adjoining parking garage, attend a concert in the Hill Performance Hall, maybe even use the rest rooms and do it all without ever leaving Collin County.

Mark Steger said...

According to the Plano Star-Courier, "The Plano City Council took the first step in the dissolution of a controversial three-city arts center during a regular meeting Monday. The council passed a resolution to give the 124-acre Arts Center of North Texas property back to its donor."

Yet another reason for Collin County residents to make the trip south to Richardson's Eisemann Center.