By Mary Hladky
A new idea has emerged to boost performing arts in the city.
Dan Guin, executive director and co-artistic director of the Boca Ballet Theatre, will appear before the Boca Raton City Council on Oct. 9 to outline his vision for a performing arts district on city-owned land east of the city library on Spanish River Boulevard.
Guin envisions more than a single performing arts center. His concept is a multi-venue campus that a number of cultural organizations would use.
He has no intention of building another Kravis Center. Rather, he sees a number of smaller theaters that would meet the needs of local groups.
“We are trying to create a home for the groups that live and work here,” he said.
Speaking with The Coastal Star in late September, Guin declined to go into specifics until he makes his presentation to the council.
“We think we will paint a good image of what would work here for all of us,” he said.
The concept, he said, is supported by the 15 members of the Boca Raton Cultural Consortium, including the Harid Conservatory, the Symphonia chamber orchestra, the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum, the Boca Raton Museum of Art and the Boca Raton Children’s Museum. Guin is president of the consortium.
Guin points to the Boca Ballet Theatre to explain why such venues are needed. Boca Ballet uses auditoriums at Florida Atlantic University, Spanish River High School and other locations for its productions.
While the facilities are good, part of the theater experience is missing, he said.
“We are bringing in the biggest names in ballet. You can go to the Met to see them. When you come here, you can’t even have a glass of wine. A table is the will call.”
He should be scheduling performances three years out, he said. Instead, he often does so only months in advance as he fits his schedule into the needs of the school or the university.
Guin sees an economic benefit to the city. He does not want Boca Raton to be unable to attract corporations because the community does not adequately support the arts.
“Do we want to have a community that has a thriving arts scene? You have to fertilize it. What we are looking to create is a fertile garden for the cultural arts,” he said.
Supporters have identified several sources of funding, he said. But a performing arts district will need the support of local residents, who are not as engaged in funding the arts as are residents of other cities such as Sarasota.
The goal is to raise one dollar of endowment for each dollar raised for bricks and mortar so that the district can be sustained, he said.
Council member Andrea O’Rourke, a strong supporter of the arts, invited Guin to make the presentation to the council.
“Arts and culture feed the economy,” she said. “I am a believer in this being an economic engine for the community.”
O’Rourke described Guin’s concepts as “beautifully thought out.” But she said it would not be easy to turn the ideas into reality.
“They will need a very strong capital campaign to see this into reality,” she said. “This is something the cultural community will have to take on.”
City Council members earlier this year agreed that a performing arts center would be a welcome addition to the city and have given some thought to including it in a new downtown government campus still being planned. No decisions have been made.
The Related Group has pitched two proposals to the city in which it would build a performing arts center and adjacent parking garage.
The second proposal called for Related to build the center in the downtown campus or wherever else the city wants. In return, the developer would buy the city-owned “old library” that now houses city offices near City Hall, tear it down and build 300 luxury apartments.
The city has not acted upon this offer, and said it would not do so until its planning for the downtown campus is more advanced.
By Mary Hladky