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PACC proposal is not in city's collective interest | Letters
I write this letter not for any benefit of my own, but to express my concern over the idea of creating a Federal Way Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC).
Though I only provide three points here, I could go on for about 15 more.
1. I grew up as a resident of Federal Way, attended Thomas Jefferson High School and subsequently studied drama at New York University. Many of my professors had designed, performed and directed on the Broadway stage.
It was here that I learned early and often about the mechanics of running a “successful” arts organization. For beginners, it takes a complete and full-time staff, both in development and in marketing — people who will tirelessly work for something they believe in that is bigger than themselves.
But more importantly, there needs to exist a desire for that culture. As you might imagine, New York City is one of the premiere spots in the world for people seeking culture. Even still, organizations with far less than $31 million (which Federal Way hopes to pour into the PACC) fight for survival. It pains me to read this week that the New York City Opera will be filing for bankruptcy. That is the top opera in the United States. These are companies with established season ticket holders, borderline celebrity talent, and legacies we can only dream of in our dear city and still, they falter under today’s economic climate and cultural interest.
2. What is additionally concerning is the PACC website stating that “Lorax Partners of Seattle engaged an expert in performing arts center management to provide an independent operational pro forma analysis of the proposed PACC.” An expert that manages a facility? This study hardly seems comprehensive to me. If a private business were investing $31 million, they would certainly do extensive research across multiple centers in many, many cities with a diverse group of experts before ever laying the first stone. We as a public should hold the decision makers in our community to that standard.
3. While at Thomas Jefferson High School, I participated in three of the yearly musicals that consistently received recognition from the 5th Avenue Awards honoring high school musical theater. In my senior year, our production of “The Secret Garden” was nominated for eight individual awards while also receiving five honorable mentions. It was truly an incredible piece. Yet even still, our Little Theater of just over 100 seats remained unfilled during a couple of performances. The PACC will not be a case of “if you build it, they will come.”
My opinion? Give even 1 percent of the PACC’s total cost to Laird Thornton over at TJHS and watch the magic he can create with a whole army of “theater moms” to run promotion. That kind of attention will draw arts-minded families to Federal Way. Give Alan Bryce over at Centrestage Theatre a strong marketing budget to drive traffic to the fantastic shows he puts on. That kind of attention will draw crowds whose kids aren’t part of the school system. Hire someone to drive all of this proposed traffic to the Knutzen Family Theatre and Dumas Bay. Create summer programs that help engage the youth from a cultural standpoint.
Federal Way is a city of families. Like Federal Way’s sports clubs, the community will get behind what their kids are passionate about.
Daniel Angeles, Federal Way