I am a former drama teacher and administrator in charge of facilities for the Richland School District and current president of Community Concerts of the Tri-Cities. I fully support the need for a Performing Arts Center in our community. I also endorse the idea of a public/private partnership. I don't speak for our board, but I know CCTC struggles every year to house our five or six performances.
However, I don't believe we need a 2,500-seat facility. CCTC is a 1,200 member organization. We use Faith Assembly or Richland High auditoriums and never fill either. I have attended many performances by local groups and none have ever required 2,500 seats. Touring companies might draw 2,500 or more, but those crowds could be accommodated with multiple performances. Only Rock concerts and similar events, which can still be accommodated at the Toyota Center, need more than 2,500 seats.
What we need is a performance venue sized for our community, with a professional stage, lighting and sound system. The house needs comfortable accessible seating and great acoustics.
Most importantly, the facility must also be affordable for local groups to rent and use.
The key to success is convincing the public that plans for a performing arts center fit our community needs and that we are not building a Taj Mahal.
ROBERT EMMINGHAM, Kennewick